Is maintaining historic BC fire station worth it?

Battle Creek Fire Station No. 3. on May 18, 2017.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Battle Creek temporarily closed one of its fire stations to clean up asbestos dust.

Workers were installing a new heating and cooling system in the station last week when they cut holes in the ceiling and were exposed to asbestos dust. The station is closed until the dust is removed.

A sign on Battle Creek Fire Station No. 3. on May 18, 2017.

Fire Station No. 3 on Cliff Street has been serving Battle Creek since 1902. But the recent asbestos mitigation project has raised a question that has been asked before: Should the city of Battle Creek pay to maintain a building that is more than 100 years old or build a new fire station?

Battle Creek City Manager Rebecca Fleury says it’s a tough decision. Although Fire Station No. 3 is rich in history, its age is making it expensive to maintain.

“If you strictly looked at it from a cost perspective, why are we putting money into a 100-year-old station?” Fleury asks.

But the station may be worth more to the community than numbers, digits or dollar signs.

“That is a beautiful facility,” explains Fleury. “It’s stoned, it still has the hay loft, because when those were built, horses were the ones that pulled the fire devices.”

Last year, more than 500 people signed a petition to save Fire Station No. 3. That was after the city commissioned a study that suggested closing or consolidating some older stations.

Battle Creek Fire Station No. 3. on May 18, 2017.

Some people who live near the station say they want the station to remain open, no matter the cost of maintaining it.

“I would rather it stay the fire station, because I don’t even know where the next nearest one is from here,” said Ed Hunt, who has lived across the street from the station for the last seven years.

Fleury says building a new station would cost about $5 million.