Fire Station Discussion Becomes Heated Topic Among Dexter City Council Members





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By Lynne Beauchamp, lbeauchamp@thesuntimesnews.com

Last minute added agenda items had the City of Dexter’s Mayor reprimanding fellow council members during a regular council meeting on April 9, followed by a heated discussion among council members on moving forward with a fire station.

The consideration of the City of Dexter to build a fire station, other than at its current location; was added to the agenda and Dexter Mayor, Shawn Keough, pointed out to council members this was not proper for allowing the public adequate knowledge of what is being discussed during meetings, stating added information was not in the public packet for review prior to the meeting.

“I understand what is being added,” said Keough. “But we should give the public the courtesy of having these things in the packet ahead of time when we are discussing something as significant as that [fire hall].”

During the Mayor’s report, Keough explained to those in attendance that the council recently held a workshop to discuss costs and other concerns of building a new fire station, other than its current location in the City of Dexter.

“Moving that station to Dexter-Ann Arbor Road [one location that is being looked at], I don’t think is a good idea” explained Keough. “We are a regional fire department [Dexter Area Fire Department] that supports not only our own but Dexter Township and Webster Township.”

Keough added that moving the station would increase response times in addition to the fire department having to drive through tight, residential areas.

Council member Paul Cousins disagreed with Keough’s argument. Cousins added that the fire station discussions have been delayed “time and time again” and that council members have spent a considerate amount of time exploring fire station options.

“Placing the fire hall in that location [Dexter-Ann Arbor Road] has a shorter run time in the City than the current location and it is closer to the schools and the industrial park,” said Cousins. “By placing the Sheriff’s Department with that it allows for shorter response times than we have now, and God forbid we have a disaster at any of our schools as we have in other schools in this community.”

Cousins went on to say that the current fire station in the City of Dexter has inadequate space and hopes the council could come to an agreement on this topic.

A lengthy discussion on the fire station ensued.

A motion was made for consideration for the city to rebuild a new fire station within the city limits other than its current location. Motion carried in a 4-3 vote.

After listening to the many conversations, Dexter Fire Chief Robert Smith spoke.

“Our goal, our mandate, in the fire service is we need to make a four minute response time 90% of the time,” said Smith. He added the majority of the runs are in the southeast portion of the city and added there was not a “perfect” site to build a fire station however if council did not act soon, options would be less and costs to build would only increase.

In a separate interview, Mayor Keough said the current fire station in the City of Dexter is structurally sound but in need of modernizing. He said the building is in need of some upgrades, but it can be done at a fraction of the cost of building a new station. The money to make improvements or to build anew would come from an additional tax, but Keough added that discussions of funding are premature at this point.

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Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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