A new fire station is planned in the Center Grove area to replace a station that will be torn down when Interstate 69 is constructed.
The Center Grove school board is selling up to 5.6 acres of land at the southwest corner of Fairview and Morgantown roads to the White River Township Fire Department. Both the school board and fire board have agreed to the sale, which will take place once appraisals of the land and preliminary designs for the station are complete.
As the Indiana Department of Transportation plans to construct the final section of I-69, which is set to go along State Road 37 in Johnson County, have become clearer the past several years, the White River Township Fire Department has been searching for a new location to replace a fire station that is directly in the path of the project.
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White River Township Fire Department Station 53, at the southeast corner of the State Road 37 and Smith Valley Road intersection, will need to be torn down to make way for I-69, fire chief Jeremy Pell said.
Money for purchasing the land and constructing the new building will come from the state, which is required by federal law to pay for replacing fire stations and other emergency services that need to be relocated due to construction projects, he said.
The school will sell the land for the average of two appraisals, assistant superintendent Bill Long said. The school has received one appraisal so far, for $175,000, Long said.
The land, which is east of Pleasant Grove Elementary School and north of Center Grove Middle School North, is undeveloped, and the school didn’t have any further plans for it, Long said.
Finding a good location to construct a fire station is a difficult task, because the property still needed to be close enough to Station 53 to provide quick service to residents on the northwest side of Johnson County, Pell said.
The new station would be less than two miles away from the one it is replacing. Besides the two schools, the property is next to subdivisions with hundreds of homes.
The department can purchase up to 5.6 acres of land at the site, but is only going to buy as much land as is needed for the project, he said.
The location will be perfect for the fire department, since being on Morgantown Road will provide easy access to I-69 at the interchanges planned on County Line Road and Smith Valley Road, Pell said.
The White River Township Fire Department serves about 28,000 people in a 26-square-mile area in the northwest corner of Johnson County. The district covers property north of Stones Crossing Road to just east of State Road 135 and has three stations in the Center Grove area.
The goal is for the new fire station to be complete in 2019, well ahead of any construction on I-69, which will allow the department to respond to crashes and other emergencies on the interstate while it is being built, he said.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has a space for its deputies at Station 53, and that arrangement would be continued at the new station, Pell said.
With about 2,000 students, teachers and staff at the two schools that will be next to the fire station, having those emergency services right next door is a huge benefit for the school if there is an emergency, officials said.
The White River Township Fire Department is looking at building a new station to replace one that will need to be demolished to make way for Interstate 69. Here’s a look at the fire department’s current and planned stations:
Location: 3016 W. Olive Branch Road
Location: 398 Meridian Parke Lane
Location: 850 S. Mullinix Road
Planned Station 53 replacement:
Location: Southwest corner of Fairview Road and Morgantown Road intersection
Planned opening: 2019