GREEN — City council has agreed to use $3 million from a controversial $7.5 million settlement over the Nexus pipeline to help build Fire Station 3 at Raber and Mayfair roads while residents continue to push for a fourth station.
City council voted unanimously Tuesday night to use some of the settlement funds plus another nearly $2 million from other city funds to build Fire Station 3.
During the meeting, Councilwoman Barbara Babbitt urged the administration to prepare legislation earmarking another $3 million from the settlement fund for a Station 4 in the city’s southwest quadrant.
Mayor Gerard Neugebauer said about $1.2 million would remain in the settlement fund for other safety projects if the Babbitt proposal is enacted. Money from the settlement already has been used for a ballfield and other purposes at Greensburg Park.
The city had been fighting plans by Nexus to build the 36-inch, high-pressure natural gas pipeline through Green as part of its 250-mile path from the Carrollton area into Canada.
Under a settlement with Nexus approved last year, the city received $7.5 million in cash, around-the-clock monitoring of the pipeline and 20 acres west of Boettler Park that the city can use to extend a trail from the park to Koons or Thursby roads.
In exchange, the city agreed to grant easements to Nexus totaling about 2½ acres in two city parks and through various roads along the pipeline's 8-mile path through Green.
Retired former interim Fire Chief Kevin Groen, a resident of the city's southwest section with 37 years of fire service, told council Feb. 26 that he hoped a Station 4 study could be completed in five to eight years. But on Tuesday, he said he now would like to see the project done sooner.
“When I realized we had an opportunity to use Nexus funds for safety, I thought it was appropriate to consider using these funds” for a station in Ward 3 in the city's southwest quadrant, he said.
“Any other use of the Nexus money that isn’t earmarked for safety relative to the pipeline, which comes right through the area we are discussing, is irresponsible," Groen said.
Fire Chief Jeff Funai said the national standard time for first emergency response is four minutes, but only the Massillon corridor is averaging that time. He added that response time is 10.5 minutes to reach the city’s extreme southwest corner.
The rationale for determining a station’s location is call volume, Funai said. “Our call volume has a tendency to be at the north end of the city.
“What’s desirable is to give everybody the same level of coverage. Absolutely. But what is real is that we often are faced with less resources than we wish we had," he said. “What we do is try to do the most good for the most people. That’s still pretty rotten for somebody who is not like most people."
Groen said operating costs could be $900,000 to $1 million a year to maintain and have a staff of nine spread over three 24-hour shifts.
“To me, what’s important is those basic emergency response times,” he said, adding that 9 to 10 minutes is not acceptable.
Groen said that currently “we can’t afford it without going in the red and putting the city in financial difficulties. It is something that has to be worked out and something that has to be considered.
“Now we have a chance we didn’t have before and that’s the capital money."
Several other Ward 3 residents voiced their support for Station 4, including one supporter, who said there are hundreds of youngsters and families at Camp Y Noah on Mount Pleasant Road. He said emergency response time is still about 10 minutes to reach that location.
Babbitt urged council to “deal with the third station outright and have another piece that deals with $3 million for a fourth fire station.” The council agreed to drop the $3 million for Station 4 from the Station 3 package that was approved.
Councilman Matt Shaughnessy asked how quickly a new study concerning a Station 4 could be done and Funai responded, “I’m ready to go really fast.”
Councilman Stephen Dyer noted that 666 homes are within the 1,500-foot blast area of the Nexus pipeline.
Councilman Chris Humphrey commented: “We have residents all throughout the city who live by pipelines, who live over pipelines, who drive by pipelines and whose businesses are located around pipelines every day. The Nexus pipeline is not the only pipeline affecting the city. We have to provide for the entire city and not just those who live by the Nexus pipeline. We have to make sure we are doing the best for all the citizens.”
George W. Davis can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.