Thursday was a long time coming for firefighters and township officials at the site where the new replacement main fire station will stand.
The rain stopped long enough to allow trustees, as well as past and current township fire chiefs, to conduct the ground-breaking ceremony.
Firefighters, local officials and community members arrived at a 2-acre parcel of land on the corner of Market Street and Stadium Drive at 4 p.m. to witness the momentous occasion. Trustee Tom Costello spoke to the crowd, expressing his enthusiasm for the day that evaded them for more than a decade.
“When this is done, as you will see, this will be a beautiful focal point for our community for years to come,” he said.
The facility, to be built by J. Herbert Construction of Salem, has a projected deadline of January 2018, and firefighters hope to be moved in by March of that year. The township hired MS Consultants Inc. of Youngstown for the station’s design, which features a tower that doubles as a place to hang fire hoses and serve as a training site to teach scaling high-rise buildings.
For nearly 15 years, the township has tried to replace its main station on U.S. Route 224. The need arose from years of sewage back-up, mold and lack of space, as well as the building’s old age of nearly 100 years. The project had difficulty getting off the ground while officials tried to find the necessary finances. Then last spring the township finalized a deal with Boardman School District that allowed the project to move forward. In exchange for a 4-acre parcel off Tod Avenue for a new bus garage, the school district provided the land for the station, adjacent to Center Intermediate School.
Fire Chief Mark Pitzer said there should not be any issues with the station only a stone’s throw from the school because of the fence that will divide the two and the assurance firefighters won’t haphazardly exit the facility. The location also is beneficial because it shaves 45 seconds off trips to the township’s south district, he said.
“This is going to move us a little bit closer and hopefully reduce our response times to the southern end of the community,” Pitzer said.
In addition to the station, Pitzer revealed a concept the township’s officials finalized for a memorial at the site that includes a wall naming any fallen firefighters and a reflective pool and twin towers for the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and near Shanksville, Pa. Officials hope to create the memorial with local donations.