City Council Advances Fire Station Plans Despite Group’s Opposition
While the Dexter City Council moves forward with plans to reconstruct the fire station on Main Street, the battle to change its location continues to smolder.
In case you’re not up to speed on the issue:
- The city council voted 4-3 to build a new fire station at the site of the current one at 8140 Main St.
- Two council members against the current location, Griffin and Michels, led a citizen initiative to put the question of preserving adjacent Mill Creek Park North before Dexter voters. If approved by voters, preservation of the park would prevent the expansion of the current fire station, essentially forcing it to be built elsewhere, most likely city-owned property across from Mill Creek Middle School, which Griffin and Michels favor.
- The group organized by Griffin and Michels, Friends of Mill Creek Park (FMCP), collected more than enough signatures on a petition to put the question before voters.
- The ballot question did not qualify for an August 2023 election.
- The city council voted 5-2 against conducting a special election in Nov. 2023 for the ballot question.
- The question of preserving Mill Creek Park North is scheduled to be on the Nov. 2024 general election ballot.
- Groundbreaking for the new fire station is planned for spring 2024.
The Sun Times News checked in with FMCP for an update on their plans now that it looks like construction for the new station will be well underway by the time voters decide on the issue.
Ron Miller, Treasurer of the group, responded, “Our group have discussed this and haven’t yet come to a specific path forward but clearly we are going to continue with the petition and getting it on the ballot. We think that a critical mistake is being made by the current Council, one that is going to cost the City dearly so we feel compelled to move forward. My outlook at this point is not couched in the bleakness you suggest. I brought up the issue at Dexter Forum last Saturday trying to keep this issue in the public discussion. I think everyone involved with the Charter Amendment petition feels that if we can keep the discussion with the public going as we move towards a vote we still have hope that reason will win out in the end before too much money gets spent.”
Dexter City Manager Justin Breyer also serves as the City Clerk and distilled the complicated election rules for a citizen-initiated charter amendment petition getting on the ballot. He explains, “State Election Law limits when citizen-initiated charter amendment petitions can be placed on an election ballot to the "...next regular municipal or general state election..." (MCL 117.21(1)). The next general state election (rather than a state primary or presidential primary election) is in November 2024. November 2024 is when a general election will occur with state candidates on the ballot. The "next regular municipal" election is also in 2024. Regular municipal elections are on an every-other-year cycle. Regular municipal elections are those regularly scheduled elections on which City Council Members and/or Mayor are elected.”
Miller is a long-time Dexter resident and perhaps one of a handful of citizens who have actively followed the fire station process over the past few years. “Our group still has the option of petitioning for an earlier Spring election but it would require that we once again go out and collect an even larger percentage of voter signatures to make this happen,” he explains. “It is an option and is still on the table but for now we want to keep the issue in the public eye and point out every decision Council makes towards keeping the fire station located at 8140 and why we see it as such an egregious decision that it warrants Council stepping back from this path until the public has a chance to make its wishes known.”
Photo: Dexter’s fire station at 8140 Main St. Photo by Doug Marrin.