SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP -- In Sylvania and Sylvania Township, houses cozy up to each other -- putting neighbors just a few feet apart. And for some, Fire Station No. 1 is only a few steps away. That's how people like it. It gives them a sense of security knowing firefighters are nearby. But now that could change if one of the fire stations closes.
Sylvania Township trustees are trying to figure out how to eliminate a multi-million dollar deficit in the fire department, and one idea that's being considered is closing Fire Station 1 in downtown Sylvania. That would allow the township to save several firefighter salaries and building expenses.
Another idea being considered would cost homeowners some money. Trustees have proposed a new fire levy for Sylvania and Sylvania Township voters. Those same voters turned down a fire levy earlier this year.
The Sylvania Township Fire Department serves both the city of Sylvania and the township.
Sylvania residents say if their fire station closes, there could be trouble. Gina Nowakowski tells News 11, "The response time would slack because of that." She worries that Sylvania Township trustees will decide to close the fire station that's right around the corner from her house -- a move that she says could put people's lives in danger.
Gina says, "We have had to call 911 in the past, and they've been very responsive -- so we are concerned about that." Gina says she has a 5-year-old son, Nicholas, to worry about.
Patrick Schwenk says he's willing to pay the maintenance levy proposed by one Township trustee as a short-term fix. He tells us, "Putting our money towards something that's going to provide greater safety -- not only for our family, but for other families in the community -- I think is not necessarily the end of the world."
Another interesting aspect is if Station 1 closes its doors, homeowners could end up paying more for insurance. Brooks Insurance reps told News 11 fire protection is rated by many factors including distance to fire stations and depending on how the plan shakes out people could shell out more for insurance like others have had to do in similar situations.
"There was recently a recalibration of the flood zones in certain areas of the community," said Brooks Vice President Ben Brown. "And suddenly people had to get flood insurance where they didn't need to get flood insurance before," he added.
Nowakowski hopes they can keep their protection as is. "We moved to Sylvania because of the community," said Nowakowski. "And we would hope they would service us considering the taxes we pay and that's one reason we came to Sylvania."
Township trustees will talk about possible solutions to the projected $2.5 million dollar budget shortfall on Wednesday afternoon. Sources tell News 11 the firefighters will hold an informational picket in front of the township building before and during that meeting.
Updated by AEB