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New South Bend fire station gets location

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

A destination has finally been chosen for a new South Bend fire station.

After decades of discussion, Station Nine is moving just a few blocks to the corner of Mishawaka Avenue and 21st Street.

Five vacant and rental houses will be demolished to make space for the facility, which has been in the works for years.

Leon Connett has lived in the River Park neighborhood since 1936, but the old station has been there ten years longer.

The new station will be just steps away from Connett’s house.

“I’m just very happy that the property chosen for the fire station . I just didn’t want to see the park getting disturbed by it,” Connett said.

Connett’s neighbor on 21st Street, Rich Wallace, feels the same way.

“I think it’s a good thing. I’m glad they’re not putting it at the park,” Connett said.

The search for a new location has been going on for decades.

Most recently, Potawatomi Park was considered.

Wednesday, it was announced the facility would instead be built across the street.

“That’s been the one known thing that the station definitely needs to be replaced. The concern has been where do we replace it?” Fire Chief Steve Cox said.

Cox says this was an inevitable but long process.

While the old station only has a fire truck and three staff members, the new station will be able to fit an extra ambulance, river rescue boat, and more staff.

“We really want to make sure we get our resources to any emergency as quickly as possible,” Cox said.

With the new building, the emergency response time will be cut from six minutes to one in some scenarios.

“Those few minutes, they mean the world to the people affected in those moments,” Cox said.

After more than twenty years of public discussion, fast is sounding pretty good to Cox.

“This is a tremendous sense of accomplishment for us to be able to do this,” Cox said.

The neighbors are celebrating too.

They get to keep their park while feeling safer.

“I think it’ll make the neighborhood better,” Wallace said.

Demolition for the new station won’t start till the leases on the current houses run out.

Designs are not yet in place.

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