In an effort to improve response time, the Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department has proposed changes to its building.
The plan is to add onto the back of the building at 210 W. Walnut St. for additional bays. That way, firetrucks won’t be in front of each other facing the same way and only have one way out.
The addition would allow some trucks to face south and exit through the bays into the alley for firefighters to respond to a call, while the other trucks would face north toward the bays along Walnut Street.
Volunteer Firefighter Eric Barnard recently shared those plans during a public hearing at a Brownstown Town Council meeting, seeking approval to close 185 feet of the alley running behind the station from Poplar Street to High Street.
The stopping point is 182 feet to the east of High Street, 165 feet south of Walnut Street and 172 feet north of West Cross Street.
The closure would prevent any possible collisions with any personally owned vehicles due to the blind exit of the station after the building extension is complete. It also would help with the ease of access to the lot on the other side of the alley owned by the fire department.
The council initially thought the fire department wanted to vacate the alley, but Barnard said making it one way may be an option. Town attorney Travis Thompson said that would go through a different process and require an ordinance.
Clerk-Treasurer David Willey said he thought closing the alley would be best, but Councilwoman Sharon Koch said then the fire department couldn’t use it.
"If they build off of the fire department, then they don’t have beyond the alley, so if we close it, then we don’t have to worry about doing this again," Willey said.
"But if they don’t build past and they want to use that alley, it’s going to be vacated," Koch replied.
"How could you make it one way anyway because if you’re going out, you’ve got to have another way of coming in?" Willey asked.
The council decided to table the request until the department has its plans finalized.
"It might be best for you to get your plans firmed up for sure what you want before we decide what to do with the alley and keeping your best interest because we don’t want to do the wrong thing and then have your plans changed and not work for you guys," Koch told Barnard.
"I think we’ve got options. It’s just whatever works best for you guys," Councilman Tim Robinson added.
Councilman Gary Drake asked Barnard when the department might have its plans determined, and he said within the next three months.
"Once you guys know exactly for sure what you’re going to do, then the board can, in conjunction with you and the attorney, make the best determination of the best option," Drake said.
"I don’t foresee any problems. It’s just doing the right steps and making sure it’s right for everybody," Councilman Mark Reynolds said. "When you guys get your plans, I think we can go from there what we can do to help."
Council President Gregg Goshorn asked Thompson if they would have to have another public hearing. Thompson said since notices were sent out to adjoining property owners for the recent hearing, the council could close the hearing and table the issue and wouldn’t have to go through the process of notices again.
No one attended the recent public hearing to speak in favor of or against the fire department’s request.
"Once you have more information, we’ll be able to put you back on the agenda, figure out what exactly you want to do and then we can help you with how we get it done," Goshorn told Barnard.
Koch also asked Barnard if the fire department has any interest in the building next to the fire department that used to house the town hall and police department and now only houses the street department. The town still owns the building but wants to sell it.
Barnard said that’s still in discussion among firefighters.