Hobart residents to city: Keep Fire Station 2
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent April 11, 2013 10:40PM
Hobart mayor Brian Snedecor and police chief Rick Zormier meet with residents during a forum at Festival Park Community Center Thursday evening. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 13, 2013 6:06AM
HOBART — City officials Thursday were urged to keep Fire Station 2 open at its Old Ridge Road location during a community forum Thursday night.
The station was closed for a while due to a lack of manpower but recently reopened with one ambulance and two firefighters from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Mayor Brian Snedecor said most ambulance calls come during that time. He said overtime is being used to staff the firehouse.
“We’re trying the best we can with our budget. The frozen levy cost us 3 percent a year over six years,” Snedecor said.
But residents were concerned about the fire and medical emergency needs of their family members.
“The proximity of the station to my son’s bedroom window is why I bought my house,” said Nick Skomac, a Hobart resident of 14 years whose son is now 18.
“Half a million dollars becomes a pile of green paper when it comes to my son. It’s very important to keep all four stations open,” Skomac said.
“I don’t want to see the fire station go. It needs to stay there,” said another resident who lives on the west side of the city.
Snedecor said the fire station is older and in need of renovation. He said city officials have talked about merging that station and the station across from Strack’s grocery on Ridge Road and building a new station somewhere in between.
But one resident said that’s still not a plausible solution.
“The first five minutes are the most critical in an ambulance call,” the resident said.
Fire Chief Brian Taylor said it’s not worth the cost to remodel Station 2 due to its small size and lack of insulation.
“The size of the station doesn’t represent the district. Ideally, we need a station twice that size,” Taylor said.
While a show of hands indicated most people were there for the fire station issue, others brought up a need for more code enforcement, litter problems and garbage pickup among other issues.
“Some houses look like they haven’t seen a coat of paint since the day they were built,” resident Sandy O’Brien said.
Another resident said there used to be one day a year when the Public Works department would pick up items that normally aren’t allowed to be put in the trash, such as TVs, and asked if that could be done again.
Snedecor said he and Public Works director John Dubach talked about having a trailer hitched to a truck to pick up extra garbage bags, TVs and other items a few times a year, but added he wants to make sure people don’t abuse the privilege.
One resident pointed out there is litter everywhere around the city and asked if there is a plan to solve the problem. Another resident said the area along Mississippi Street by all the fast food restaurants is especially bad.
Snedecor said they plan to use community service workers to help clean the debris.
“We need to see it happen, but we can write citations,” Police Chief Rick Zormier said. “It’s a society problem.”