By Seth Kinker,

After meeting with design specialists and holding two town halls, the Dexter city council continued to discuss facilities at their August 12 meeting.

An agenda item brought forward by council member Zach Michels touched on fire station/police station and city hall/police station concept design.

In addition to stating the need for more details on plans for the proposed facilities projects, including value engineering; Michels recommended establishing and selecting design committee, authorizing/directing the appropriate authorities (city manager/mayor) to sign contracts with Partners in Architecture and Stewart Cooper Newell Architects, expending funds (from the facilities fund or other appropriate source) for completion of the task, any necessary budget amendments, establishing the above design requirements as policy decisions for the design concept of the two sites and establishing a date on which the documents shall be completed and returned for council’s review.


Following recommendations to have a committee from a prior meeting with Ken Newell of Stewart Cooper Newell Architects; Michels recommended that Dexter Area Fire Department Chief Robert Smith, a junior member of the DAFD, a representative from the sheriff’s office, a representative from city council, a representative from PIA, and a representative from Stewart Cooper Newell Architects be put on the design committee.

Mayor Shawn Keough first asked about the cost of the committee while adding that a city staff member should be included, with council member Jim Smith recommending that City Manager Courtney Nichols be included in that committee.

Fire Chief Smith said that he had had productive conversations in the past with Nichols, David Gassen of PIA, and a representative from the Sheriff’s office. An amended motion put Nichols, Fire Chief Smith, a junior member of the DAFD, and Gassen on the committee with Chief Smith recommending the ability to bring in other people from time to time.

A large part of the conversation centered around station design went back to past arguments and points. Keough stated he wasn’t convinced on the number of bays needed, referencing the townhalls and wanting to work in concert with local communities that the DAFD covers.

“There’s another station going up around the block,” said Keough. “How many total bays do we need?”

“Is your argument we can’t go forward with our station until (Webster Township) is done with theirs?” asked Michels in response.

Keough stated that he thought it would be good as one of the entities of the DAFD, to take the first step in reaching out to the others pertaining to the potential stations going up.

Fire Chief Smith, who’s been consulting for the Webster Township station, reported that he was sure Webster wouldn’t mind him sharing that information but that he had also provided the information for why five bays were needed and other recommended renovations.

Keough and Fire Chief Smith then went back and forth about run data. Keough cited that over the past year and a half that the majority of calls were coming from the townships while questioning if taxpayers should be paying to house that many vehicles in the city when runs went out to the townships.

Keough stated that they should be making data driven decisions, something that Fire Chief Smith contended by saying that was all their decisions were based on as a fire department.

“70 percent of the calls will receive a better response time by being at the MAVD site,” said Fire Chief Smith. “Again, we are data driven. Everything I look at is data driven. From the time the alarm goes off to the time the guys get in the truck and on the road until they get to the site. That’s what you pay me to do, to look at that. I’ve put it out there over and over, I hear these numbers being put out there and I just get a little frustrated because the data is there.”

“It’s frustrating to see numbers jacked around and not portrayed accurately,” added Fire Chief Smith.

Keough mentioned population growth being bigger in the townships than in the city and said it seemed odd to him to have equipment located away from where the population trends were going.

Fire Chief Smith responded that they wanted equipment located where it made the most sense. With many of the firefighters based near the city, he said putting equipment in the outer lying stations would cause more work to go retrieve that equipment before going to a call.

“I accept Shawn’s questioning of it,” said Fire Chief Smith. “But at some point, it comes down to, how do we operate the department and what’s the workflow? What happens when an alarm comes in? What’s the fastest way to get to everybody in the municipality?”

Fire Chief Smith noted that the main station downtown needed to be able to support the outlying township stations.

The motion to form a design committee for the fire station/police station with the authorization to not exceed more than $5,000 to get the efforts started, while bringing back preliminary information on potential scope of work passed 6-1 with Keough being the lone dissenting vote.