The closed fire station and bank building on the corner of Okemos and Hamilton Road won’t sit empty for long thanks to local business owner and developer Kris Elliottt of Evergreen Companies. Elliott plans to redevelop the intersection by renovating the former bank building, MARC, into a restaurant and demolishing the old Meridian Township fire station and library building. “We thought we would try to have some transformation and some synergy down there,” said Meridian Township Treasurer Julie Brixie. “Having a popular restaurant would be something that drives a lot of people to an area and helps an area turn around really quick,” she said. Phase one of the project is the renovation of the restaurant and the demolition of the fire station.
Kean’s Store, a Mason classic that has remained unchanged in the downtown square for 87 years, is being renovated after severe smoke damage that wiped out all of the merchandise. In June, an electrical fire at Baja Grill, a restaurant attached to Kean’s, caused smoke to seep into the store and caused major damage. “Everything had to come out. They gutted it. It was a long process,” said Laurie Reed, the store manager of Kean’s.
The Holt Farmers’ Market has extended its hours and is now open every Saturday all year round due to increasing sales from vendors. Marcy Bishop Kates, executive director and cofounder of Holt Community Connect — a nonprofit organization to help the community thrive — said that market sales have broke a record of over $5,000 this past year. The market is located at 2150 Cedar Street, which is the former fire department building. Market Manager Chuck Grinnell says the increase in sales is due to the growing amount of customers as well as vendors. “Our customer base has grown such that it can support a year round market, we have vendors that rely on year round sales income, and making the best use of an indoor facility, ” says Grinnell.
On Oct. 6 Meridian Township Board discussed the sale of the Central Fire Station at 2150 Clinton St. and The MARC at 4675 Okemos Road. Township Manager Frank Walsh brought everyone up to date about the details of when construction might begin and said Evergreen Companies was the best deal. The deal, which was set to be signed by Township Clerk Brett Dreyfus and Township Supervisor Elizabeth LeGoff on Oct.1, is now null and void because LeGoff has been ill.
Firefighters served up more than food Oct. 10 at the sixth annual pancake breakfast and open house at the fire station at 1296 W. Grand River Ave. The event’s purpose was to teach about fire prevention as part of national fire prevention week. It also raised money for the Williamston Firemen’s Association, said Tony Worth, president of the group. The money buys new equipment for the department and is donated to organizations such as the food bank.
In celebration of fire prevention week, the Williamston Firemen’s Association is hosting the 6th annual pancake breakfast and open house on Saturday, Oct. 10. Between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., members of the association will serve all-you-can-eat pancakes with scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, orange juice, milk and coffee at the NIESA/Williamston Fire Station, 1296 W. Grand River Ave. “It’s a fundraiser for the association, (which) uses it to buy equipment for the department,” said Capt. Scott Cochrane. “We also give money to local charities like the food bank.”
Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for children under 12 or $20 per family.
Intermodal Policy Section Manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation Rob Balmes provided a brief overview of Proposal 1 at the March 16 City Council Meeting detailing main changes taxpayers will witness if the Proposal is passed. “Proposal 1,” Balmes said, “will increase sales tax from 6 to 7 percent, while exempting fuel purchases, if approved by a vote to amend the Michigan Constitution May 5. Sent to ballot by the House and the Senate, Proposal 1 would trigger a series of other laws designed to maximize new investments on road funding and minimize growing tax burdens for low-income residents, Balmes said. According to Balmes, Proposal 1 would generate about $1.25 billion a year for state and local road agencies by 2018, and another $200 million a year to schools, $111 million for cities, $116 million for mass transit and $173 million for the state general fund. Balmes outlined the 10 pieces of legislation Proposal 1 offers Michigan people if passed on May 5.
The community gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony for the township’s new Central Fire Station on Tuesday, March 31. The township board of trustees approved the bid for the fire station, located off the corner of Okemos Road and Central Park Drive, earlier in March, despite some controversy. Fire Chief Fred Cowper said that the problems nearby condominium residents had with the fire station will no longer complicate its future. Cowper said, “It’s the visible beginning, the new milestone in the journey of our fire department. What happened in the past is in the past and we move forward—that’s the way I look at it.
After years of lawsuits and court rulings, plans for the Central Fire Station construction are moving forward. The Meridian Township project has been on hold since 2012 after residents of the neighboring condominium complex sued the township in hopes of receiving a court order to stop progress on the site. “Now we’re waiting for the Michigan Supreme Court,” Meridian Township Treasurer Julie Brixie said. “The (condominium residents) have appealed the decision, but we have won all the way up and we’re waiting for the Supreme Court to reject it.”
Although there has not been an answer from the Michigan Supreme Court, the project is allowed to move forward because the court order to stop any progress was not granted to the residents of Autumn Park condominiums.
“When I arrived here to be the fire chief in 1998, some of the first things I looked at were equipment, the chain of command and the fire station replacement as one of the top priorities,” Fire Chief Fred Cowper said. “So we now have put a lot of work and effort in making that happen.”
The new Central Fire Station will be at the corner of Okemos Road and Central Park Drive, and includes space for the fire department’s administrative offices, new living areas for firefighters and will be up to “green” standards.
The initiative is headlined by a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, a Joint Arson Task Force, and Blue Card training, which have all been set in place within the past year. The automatic mutual aid system spans political and geographical borders by sending the closest unit to emergencies. “MABAS is a closest-unit response system. It provides all personnel needed and is pre-scripted throughout the entire county to be efficient and safe,” said Delhi Township Fire Chief Brian Ball. “MABAS organizes the response by what resources are available and it sets the game plan for public safety,” said Delta Township Fire Chief John Clark.