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Fire district discussions planned for city, neighboring townships

Fire Dept.The City of Wayland, Wayland Township, Yankee Springs Township and perhaps Hopkins and Leighton townships may be meeting sometime next month to further discuss the possibility of creating a fire district.

City Manager Mike Selden said Monday night there were plans to have a joint meeting at the Wayland Township Hall Aug. 6, but too many local officials were unable to attend, so another date will be set.

City Councilman Rick Mathis said, “I’ve been approached by someone from Hopkins Township as well (on the matter).”

Leighton Township officials have expressed interest in the past in discussing the idea.

Martin Township was approached, but declined to get involved, but Selden said he would make contact once again.

Yankee Springs Township and Supervisor Mark Englerth, whose daughters attend Wayland schools, have indicated an interest in discussing the idea and its feasibility.

The Wayland City Council and Leighton Township Board two years ago decided to spend $3,000 in casino revenue to do a study on the feasibility of creating a fire authority to serve a wider group of municipalities.

The Wayland City Council has submitted a grant application to fund a new public safety building in the industrial park on Reno Drive in continuing efforts to establish a district. The city’s application is for a Competitive Grant Assistance Program (CGAP) to create a fire board and to fund the construction of a public safety facility that would house the city police and Michigan State Police. Meanwhile, the fire department would be given a lot more room at the site it now shares on West Superior Street with city police.

State police for a long time have been looking for a new home because their quarters at their more than 50-year-old site on North Main are cramped.

Proponents say the benefits could be economic and perhaps it could streamline services, but the negatives involve officials and their turf and the question of who’s in charge?

Wayland City and Wayland Township already have an arrangement in which the township contracts for the fire service on a percentage basis. But a Fire Board, with representatives from the neighboring townships and the city, could decide policy and govern local fire services, which might politicize the whole process. Sometimes conflicts arise between people on how to do things, how matters should be handled and who has the power.

Proponents insist local governments need to pool their resources and work together for the common good and forget about protecting their own turf.

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