By Stephanie Hernandez McGavin
The Meridian Times
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. Today is just a great day.”
The new fire station will have its own generator to survive power outages, a community room for residents and large bay areas for equipment storage. In addition, Cowper said he was excited to modernize the new fire station with separate bathrooms, locker rooms and living areas for male and female firefighters.
The previous Central Fire Station did not have separate facilities for men and women. Firefighter Samantha Weber said she was excited to see the updates. She also said she was ready for any changes that benefited the fire department as a whole.
Also ready for change was township resident Robert Hammer. At 90 years old, Hammer has lived in the township for more than 50 years and had become accustomed to change.
Hammer, whose home is just south of the new station, wrote to the board in support of the project when nearby residents rejected it. The letter inspired the board of trustees and firefighters and was read at the ceremony.
“I’ve watched this piece of land for a long time. We’re standing on the ground that used to be the home of Ralph Guile—he was a colleague of mine in the chemistry department,” said Hammer. “It’s kind of strange to be in Ralph Guile’s yard now, except it’s something very nice, the use of this property.”
Hammer said he remembered moving to his current home in 1964 and seeing cows inhabit the land where the ceremony took place on. He said there was no Meridian Mall, Meijer or township building, but he watched the township evolve over the years and remained open to change.
Cowper spoke about the positivity of Hammer at the ceremony and said he respected someone who could grew up in a tough, Depression-era generation and still offer open-minded support and historical knowledge to the township.
Cowper said, “He’s supported us and he really is, to me, the goal of what we’re doing here—somebody that we offer a level of comfort to. He knows we’ll be there if he needs us.”
The fire station begins construction with the warmer weather and will hold the grand opening in December.