2013-05-25 / News

Little said after fire district meeting

By Scott Rawdon

UNION TOWNSHIP – Union Township Trustee President Rick Black said as of Monday night, he’d heard nothing from any of the area officials that attended a May 6 informational meeting about a possible fire district.

“I haven’t heard from anyone,” he said. Black said he may send emails to meeting participants seeking opinions about the district.

Licking County Commissioner Doug Smith, who was involved with the formation of the West Licking Joint Fire District near Pataskala roughly 30 years ago, was invited to the May 6 meeting to describe the process to representatives from Heath, Hebron, Buckeye Lake, and Union, Granville, and Licking townships, who had been invited to start a discussion about a possible fire district.

Trustee John Slater said he’d heard many comments “one way and the other” following the meeting, with some wanting to pursue a fire district study and others wanting to forget it.

Black said a Granville Township trustee called him to discuss it. “Are we going to have enough tax base for this to be done in the way we need it to be,” was the question, he said. Would it affect tax rates?

“We’re interested in serving northern Union Township, but it doesn’t make sense for us to join the fire district,” Granville Township Trustee Paul Jenks told The Beacon Tuesday. “Fire districts, if put together for the right reasons, make a lot of sense. But, the risk is when you roll political jurisdictions together. Someone always feels slighted. That said, it makes a lot of sense.”

Union Township contracts with the Granville Township Fire Department to protect the portion of the township north of the railroad track. Jenks said the department also serves 60 percent of McKean Township. He said the department has the quickest response time in Licking County, has a realized 4.4 mills levy, and great staff and volunteer members. “It all works for us,” he said. Jenks said the response time is less than four minutes and lives are being saved. “We don’t want to disassemble that,” he said. “We’re more than happy to work with whatever happens down there.”

Jenks said that his experiences with fire districts have not been good, but “I would not presume to suggest what they should do.” He said generally speaking a fire district could make sense or be “a huge, expensive disaster” depending upon circumstances. Should other local entities form a fire district, Jenks said Granville Township is “interested in helping,” but not joining.

In other township news:

• Street Department Superintendent Dave Cable said the township won a High Risk Rural Road grant with the help of the Licking County Planning Commission.

“What was approved was a grant intended to make the roadway safer,” said Licking County Transportation Planner Matt Hill, adding that the grant is intended to help rural local governments with low cost countermeasures on rural roads. He said the grant will cover the section of Beaver Run Road from Ohio 37 to Thornwood Drive. Hill said the grant will fund a one-inch leveling course of asphalt, a Micro Surface friction course (to improve traction), and Thermo Plastic Edge Lines. “They’re all intended to help with the runoffroad crashes along the road,” he said.

The total planned cost is $162,102, with $16,000 being the township’s share.

“I say go for it,” said Black.

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