BATH TOWNSHIP — Fairborn Fire and EMS is now providing mutual aid response to residents and businesses in Bath Township in the event that assistance is needed during an emergency.
Township Trustee Steve Ross reported during the March 18 township meeting that he had been involved in ongoing discussions with Fairborn city officials, which resulted in the recent decision.
“It’s official, and I am thrilled. It is something that we have been working on for some time,” Ross said. “Our relationship with Fairborn has improved dramatically. In fact, I think it is the best it has been in a long time.”
Ross described Fairborn Assistant City Manager Michael Gebhart as the “voice of reason” throughout the talks between city and township leaders.
“Mike came from Bethel Township in Miami County and therefore, has first-hand knowledge of township government,” Ross said. “Mike has a unique perspective. He has the ability to look at a situation from both the township and city’s point of views.”
Ross said his relationship with Fairborn Mayor Paul Keller, which was not on a governmental level, goes back many years as well.
In December 2018, the township board of trustees unanimously approved three separate contract agreements that divided annual fire and EMS coverage in Bath Township among Miami and Beavercreek townships in Greene County and Bethel Township in Clark County.
The move came after negotiations failed between the township and Fairborn to renew a five-year fire and EMS contract, which included a significant increase in annual fees. The city asked to increase fees to $1,089,000 for 2019 and $1.2 million for each subsequent year. At that time, Ross noted that renewal of the contract proposal would have required township trustees to ask for a substantial increase in the township’s fire levy tax. The current fire levy provides $655,000 in tax revenues annually, and the renewal of that five-year levy will appear on the ballot in November.
Fairborn and the three neighboring townships in Greene and Clark counties have participated in the Greater Dayton Area Fire Departments’ Mutual Aid Agreement since 1989. According to the terms of the agreement, each agency furnishes fire department personnel and equipment, emergency medical services, hazardous materials units, environmental protection units and other resources to neighboring fire departments requesting mutual aid. This sharing of resources comes at no cost.
Following the end of the long-standing agreement between the township and the city, Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson stated that the city would continue to provide mutual aid to its neighboring jurisdictions that have their own fire and EMS departments. However, the regional agreement for mutual aid did not extend the same privileges to third parties that did not have their own f ire and EMS departments.
Ross noted that Fairborn Fire Chief Dave Reichert had recently notified Beavercreek, Miami, and Bethel townships fire departments and offered to include runs to Bath Township as part of Fairborn Fire Department’s mutual aid agreement with the three departments.
“Cooler heads prevailed, and time heals many things,” said Ross. “We really appreciate what city leaders have done in the past and what they will do in the future. They are a value to us, and we are a value to them. Thank you, Fairborn.”
In other business, township trustees approved a resolution of support for B-W Greenway Community Land Trust’s application to The Clean Ohio Fund Green Space Conservation Program. Ross explained that the non-profit land trust is working to preserve environmentally sensitive land in Greene and Clark Counties and has applied for the acquisition and restoration of property located on Fairfield-Yellow Springs Road, just east of Waterford Landing,
The Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program provides grants for up to 75 percent of the estimated costs for projects. Ross said the land trust intends to use the grant funds to purchase 7.45 acres of land from Waterford Landing LLC, which has agreed to sell the acres. The land will be used as a buffer between the environmentally sensitive Pearl’s Fen, located at 4535 Byron Road, and the planned 32.9-acre residential development.
Upon the purchase of the land, B-W Greenway Community Land Trust will transfer the property to the Greene County Parks and Trails which owns and maintains the fen. Park and Trails will then restore the land for the community.
According to B-W Greenway Land Trust webpage, the 2-acre fen consists of organic soil saturated with alkaline spring water. Nearly 170 species of plants, including wetland plants, have been identified within the fen community.
“Pearl’s Fen is one of the headwaters of Beaver Creek, and we need to do whatever we can to preserve this valuable wetland,” Ross said.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.