YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A shoestring budget is one thing but when there is no budget, things must be sacrificed. The City of Youngstown plans to close Station #7 as a cost-cutting move. Now the department must deal with the ramifications of the closure.
“When I relocate [Fire House] 7’s to [Fire House] 3’s and the rescue comes downtown, they are going to be roughly two minutes behind Engine 7 if Engine 7 was still there,” said Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley.
Finley spent the majority of the two-hour city council safety committee meeting Thursday night fielding questions from council members about the decision to close Fire Station 7.
It was a financial decision but a decision, according to him, that will not put the safety of Youngstown residents in jeopardy — even those on the north side.
“We still can provide a great level of fire protection, you just have to do it the proper way,” Finley said.
Right now, the first fire truck takes three to four minutes to arrive on scene.
Youngstown Law Director Jeff Limbian echoed his statement, but from a financial standpoint.
“Even if it was a perfect building, our future is uncertain from a contractual standpoint,” he said.
The city is currently leasing Fire Station 7 and is responsible for its repairs and upkeep.
Built in 1904, the building was made for horse and buggy firefighting.
The city sold the building in 2009. The lease is up in early January 2020. The current owner, developer Dominic Marchionda, is under indictment.
“My overriding sensibility is that all people are innocent unless proven guilty but I think in terms of the optics, forming a new contract with a man under such an onerous indictment is foolhardy,” Limbian said.
Although the lease is only $100 a year, over the past seven years, Finley estimates the city has put at least $30,000 back into a building that it doesn’t own.
“Mr. Marchionda is not the driving force behind us not renewing this lease,” Limbian said. “The factors described by the chief are the driving force.”
A new fire station for the north side has been considered, but isn’t currently an option with a price tag between $3 million and $5 million.