Project augments fire, police depts.

By David J. Coehrs -

It got off to a slow start, but a Wauseon capital improvement project will add much-needed space to the city’s police and fire departments.

Approved in the city’s budget last January, the nearly $60,000 joint project will add two sleeping rooms to the fire department and two offices and a conference room to the police department. In both cases, the project will involve dividing a large space into smaller rooms.

Bids for the joint project were advertised Nov. 10, and will remain open until mid-December. The rooms are expected to be completed by Feb. 28.

The engineering services behind the project are by David L. Geringer of Archbold.

Fire Chief Rick Sluder said it’s a matter of converting a day room in the station into two additional sleeper rooms. Of the four firefighter-EMTS on duty each night, two are sleeping on couches for lack of enough sleeper rooms.

“We don’t have room for the guys to get appropriate rest,” Sluder said. A workout room on the second floor of the city administration building will serve as a temporary sleeping space.

The station’s two present sleeper rooms were constructed after the department created two full-time EMS positions in 2002. Since then, two full-time firefighters were added to the staff and the department’s call volume has increased.

For the fire department, the work will consist of raising two walls. It will entail an upgraded HVAC system but not much structural work, Sluder said.

The adjacent police department will take over office space vacated in the same building by the Parks and Recreation Department, which recently moved operations to Dorothy B. Biddle Park. Chief Keith Torbet said the approximately 400 square foot space will be transformed to two 8-foot by 10-foot offices, a 10-foot by 15-foot conference room, and an interview room.

He said presently four supervisors share cramped quarters in a room with barely enough space for two desks and three file cabinets.

“We have literally outgrown our space here, and we’re trying to utilize what space is available in the city building,” Torbet said. To be as fiscally responsible as possible, we’re just trying to utilize what space we have here.”

He said that during construction “it may be an inconvenience for people coming into the city building, but we’re going to try to keep that at a minimum.”

Torbet envisions the police department moving to a larger space in five to 10 years, based on the economy and city growth. He said the property at Shoop Avenue and Linfoot Street recently vacated by the Ohio Department of Transportation would be ideal.

“Right now, that would be probably the center of town for the next 60 years,” he said. “You’re close enough to respond to any aspect of the city.”

The joint project was budgeted by city administrators for 2017 and approved last January. Sluder said time was required to allow completion of a draft.

“It’s just taken a long time to get to it,” he said.

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.