The first item on the agenda at the Dexter Forum is polling the group for the morning’s agenda. “What do we want to talk about?” moderator John Hansen asks. It’s not uncommon these days for someone to ask about the progress on the new fire hall, which someone did at the last meeting.
Paul Cousins is a regular at the Forum and also sits on the Dexter City Council. Paul was able to give us an insider’s view as the Council works through the decision-making process.
“At the last work session, we decided that we we’re going to look at two additional sites,” Paul told the Forum. “One is Copeland School on the corner of Hudson and Dexter-Ann Arbor road. It’s where the Senior Center is. What was originally the gym there in the school is now used by the Dexter Community Players for the performances they have there.”
The other site being considered is the old St Joseph Catholic Church property in town, not the church itself, but former school building and another building. The property is not officially up for sale, but the church would consider selling that part of the property.
As with the other possible sites, there are obstacles. With the Copeland School location, the Senior Center would have to be relocated. Money would have to be found to do that. Dexter Community Schools administrative offices are currently housed there as well but “the administrative offices could probably be moved to Bates Elementary after the new elementary school is built,” Paul said. “Dexter Alternative High School also meets in Copeland but their own new building is under construction off Shield Road.”
The St Joseph property is smaller than what has been recommended for a new fire hall and costs significantly more than other options. Architects are looking at the feasibility of both sites. Some on the City Council have suggest that if the two properties are not used for a new fire hall, perhaps they could be considered for developing affordable housing in Dexter.
Meanwhile, the MAVD property across from Mill Creek is still under consideration but on hold while other sites are explored. One of those options is remodeling the current fire hall on Main Street, an option several council members favor. It would be an uphill battle however.
“It’s a divided Council, four to three,” Paul said. “There are four people who will never ever, in my opinion, vote to remodel the current fire hall which is what the other three favor.”
Paul is one of the four who favor a new fire hall which would include the Sheriff’s post. He likes the idea of having the emergency services closer to the schools. Paul also believes a new facility would better serve the decontamination process when fire fighters return from a run; a critical process studies have shown is vital to fire fighters’ future health.
The Council continues to evaluate all options. “That’s where we’re at and we just haven’t been able to pull the trigger yet to buy this piece of property or that piece of property,” Paul said.