INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Along a busy block that includes shops and homes, it’s the fire house between them that all the neighbors are happy to have so close, but more importantly, still open.
“We have heard some things that perhaps they are going to be going through with closing the station, but until I hear from the Mayor directly I’m going to hold out hope that that’s not the case,” said Clark Kirkman, president of the Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association (BTNA).
The neighborhood surrounds Indianapolis Fire Station 16 near 56th Street and Illinois Street.
Last March, the fire department unveiled its 2016 Redeployment Plan. It included several initiatives to save the department $2.1 million.
One component included closing Station 16 and consolidating it with Station 32 in Broad Ripple.
BTNA homeowners are worried about their safety. They even held a rally at the Station 16 in May to show their support for the fire fighters, but it appears their fighting a losing battle. However, IFD ensures neighboring stations will maintain proper response times.
“All I can tell you right now is that I don’t have any reason to believe (the redeployment plan) is not moving forward,” said Colleen Fanning, the City County Councillor who represents part of the area affected by the potential closure.
Fanning said she’s been meeting with Mayor Joe Hogsett and Fire Chief Ernest Malone.
She said the focus of the meetings has shifted from whether or not the station should close to what will be the future of the property it sits on.
“I think there’s some good things on the table,” she said. “I really have an interest to make sure whatever is left there is an asset that the whole community can use and there’s a lot of ways that can look.”
Fanning will be part of that process as will Kirkman and other city leaders.
The neighborhood already has the MLK Center nearby so Kirkman feels another community center isn’t necessary.
But no matter what alternatives come up, they won’t be the choice so many of his neighbors truly want.
“Obviously I have some interest in the site, but we would of course like it to remain a fire station,” he said.
Fanning added that there is no exact timetable as to when they’ll decide what to do with the site, but she did say they will work diligently in the coming weeks to come up with an idea.