Submitted photo A proposed Mount Vernon satellite fire station near the junction of Coshocton Road and Upper Gilchrist Road (yellow box as shown) near Knox County Jail (dark buildings on right in image), is something Knox County commissioners say they will consider but must do so with future county building needs in mind as well on county-owned property.

Submitted photo
A proposed Mount Vernon satellite fire station near the junction of Coshocton Road and Upper Gilchrist Road (yellow box as shown) near Knox County Jail (dark buildings on right in image), is something Knox County commissioners say they will consider but must do so with future county building needs in mind as well on county-owned property.

MOUNT VERNON — Knox County government officials say they have a limited amount of acreage in future years for new building needs, and thus must give any offers to acquire county property the most careful consideration and vetting possible. That starts with giving future county building expansion needs the most priority, county Administrator Jason Booth and Commissioner Teresa Bemiller said this week.

So an idea presented this past Tuesday by Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis and city Safety Service Director Joel Daniels — for the county to consider city acquisition of approximately one acre of county property near the Knox County Jail in order to construct a small satellite fire station — must be vetted with every future aspect of such a proposal in mind, they offered.

Booth said although the Knox County Service Center, for example, currently satisfies county needs with enough space to house the commissioners’ offices, the county treasurer, auditor, prosecutor’s office, and others, that may not be the case in future decades.

What the county does have, he said, are tracts of highly sought after, buildable land on Upper Gilchrist Road — both at and near its intersection with Coshocton Avenue. One is an 11.6 acre tract at the southeast junction of Upper Gilchrist Road and Coshocton Road, which is along the north side of a long driveway that provides access to Knox County Jail and comes off Upper Gilchrist Road. That jail access driveway is almost directly across the road from Mazza’s restaurant.

Along the south side of the jail access driveway is an 11.13 acre tract owned by the county, and this is where Mount Vernon officials have discussed placing a satellite fire station on one acre that would house a fire truck and ambulance, Booth and Bemiller said. At this point, it is something the county will give careful consideration to with an open mind concerning fire station needs in the area, they offered. The city has not made a formal offer on the property, and the next step would entail the city fire chief presenting renderings for the project to county officials for consideration. The city also has a property close by that is close to 4 acres in size.

Bemiller said this week that any decisions she and fellow Commissioners Thom Collier and Bill Pursel make now would impact future county commissioners — who will most certainly have county building needs in mind. Booth agrees with her assessment of the situation.

“Our current service center is adequate in size … and we don’t have a specific need for the land in question today. But what about 20 years from now, or 30 years from now?” Booth posed.

Bemiller added it is actually impossible today to predict all future county needs that far ahead. The county must be mindful of its future population growth and its need to satisfy the needs of that burgeoning populace by providing services — and the buildings needed to house those expanding services.

“We need to be good stewards of the limited land we now have and will need later for the future,” she said. “We need to make good decisions and don’t want to be hamstrung.”

City officials mentioned that the long jail driveway could have a small access road that leads into the satellite fire station — thus negating the need for an additional curb cut and access road off of Upper Gilchrist Road, Booth said. Another advantage of the proposal is that other fire stations, like Monroe Township, would benefit from having a satellite station in the area.

“We said we would definitely take a real look at this (proposal),” Bemiller said.

Booth and Bemiller said the idea of an additional city fire station has been broached before. One such location several years ago involved Sychar Road near Hiawatha Water Park, but it never materialized.

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Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or larry@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews