Township and school district officials are moving forward with a plan that will allow completion of a long-sought project: construction of a new township fire station to replace the nearly 100-year-old building on U.S. Route 224.
In a joint news conference Wednesday, officials announced plans for a property swap that will give the township a 2-acre parcel adjacent to Center Middle School on Market Street for the new fire station.
In exchange, the township will give the school district a 4-acre parcel off Tod Avenue that now houses a township cold-storage facility. That facility will be modified to become the district’s new bus garage, replacing the one on McClurg Road.
About a year ago, Superintendent Frank Lazzeri said, school district officials became aware that expansion of the Davis Family YMCA would complicate use of the school district’s current bus garage. Since then, school officials have been in talks with the township regarding the exchange.
Lazzeri said the swap will save the district roughly $1 million.
“We don’t have to buy a property. We don’t have to erect a building. ... It’s a win-win for the public,” he said.
In response to a question about possible disruptions to the neighborhood near the proposed site of the new bus garage, Lazzeri said school officials have talked about erecting barriers to mitigate noise associated with the buses.
The exchange is a win for the township because it will allow the fire department to more-cost-effectively move out of a building that has been riddled with problems, fire Chief Mark Pitzer said. He noted, for example, issues with air quality, ventilation and sewage backups there and that the department has spent roughly $120,000 over the past five years on fixes.
“I think we can do a lot better for the taxpayer and stretch our dollar further,” he said. The move also will improve the department’s response time, he added.
“By moving the location from 224 to Market Street and Stadium [Drive], we will improve our response time to the southern end of the district by a minute to a minute and a half,” he said. “This is about the safety of the community and the safety of firefighters.”
To pay for the estimated $3.5 million cost of building a new station, the township plans to sell the main fire station (it’s currently for sale) and work out a financing plan. Township Administrator Jason Loree said for projects such as this, the state allows financing options for a period as long as 40 years.
That project now is in the design and engineering stage, which is being handled by MS Consultants of Youngstown.
“What this represents is the continued partnership between the schools and township officials,” Trustee Larry Moliterno said. “I think we’re showing the people who live in Boardman that we’re doing our best to spread their tax dollars as best we can.”
Final details of the exchange are still being negotiated. Loree said construction bids for the fire station could go out as early as August.