Safety Facility Levy
Thank you, Copley Township residents, for supporting the proposed Safety Facility Levy – your voices made all the difference. Following yesterday’s voting, the levy has passed!
Not only have you helped ensure Copley Township’s fire and police facilities will continue to meet our community’s needs and support current best practices for modern safety forces operation, but you’re also helping to make our home a safer place overall – reducing traffic issues and making the township more walkable as well.
The newly approved Safety Facility Levy will fund the construction of a new, joint safety facility for our fire, police and first-responder personnel, provide the township with a community center and green space, as well as an access road to the new facility location off Sunset Drive. Once blueprints are prepared and all necessary documents and permits acquired, construction is expected to begin sometime in September 2023 and be complete in or around November 2024, though this projected timeline is subject to change.
Additional details around the building plan, construction timelines and more will be communicated throughout the project as they become available.
Chief Bower talks about the safety risks and unmet industry standards of the existing Copley Township Fire Department facility, as well as the upcoming Nov. 8 election, which will allow residents to vote on a levy that would fund the construction of a new Copley Township Safety Facility
Michael Mier, Chief of the Copley Township Police Department, walks viewers through the existing police facility. During the walkthrough, he notes many areas that are not in compliance with current state safety standards, including the lack of separate spaces for holding juveniles and adults, a separate entrance for prisoners and capacity for supporting today's police force, which has grown with Copley Township's population.
The ballot for the upcoming Nov. 8 election will allow residents to vote on a levy that would fund the construction of a new joint Copley Safety Facility for both police and fire personnel.
Copley Township Safety Facility Levy
The ballot for the upcoming Nov. 8 election will include the opportunity for residents to vote on a levy that would fund the construction of a new Copley Township Safety Facility. The information outlined below will help you make an informed decision.
The facilities that house our safety forces are critical to the delivery of the police, crime prevention, fire, rescue, EMS and fire prevention services that help make Copley Township one of the safest communities in Northeast Ohio. As Copley Township has expanded to more than 18,000 residents, those safety forces, and the services they provide, have also grown. Because of this, the existing fire and police facilities no longer meet our community’s needs, nor do they support current best practices for modern safety forces operation.
If passed, the proposed Safety Facility Levy would fund construction of a new, joint safety facility. It would also provide:
- A community center with outdoor features and green space, created by renovating and repurposing the area currently occupied by the Copley Township Fire Department.
- An access road that would create a route to the new facility location off Sunset Drive, while also helping to rejuvenate the circle, reduce traffic issues and expand our pedestrian network, making the township more walkable.
A levy is a request for money in addition to what might already be allotted by the local, state and federal government. Schools and other public entities, such as fire and police forces, must ask their residents to approve this funding request by majority vote in a general election. If approved, levy money must be spent as stated on the ballot.
Levies can be funded in one of two ways: taxing property or taxing income of township residents.
The timeframe for levies can vary. Since the proposed Copley Township Safety Facility Levy covers the construction and renovation of new and existing police and fire station buildings, as well as the addition of a new access road, it is estimated to run for approximately 26 years. Payments will be collected by the county through property tax payments, with the additional contributions added on to property owners’ current tax bills.
The existing police facility was built in 1983 and has housed the Copley Township police force since 1995. At that time, there were only 16 full-time officers. As the community’s population has grown, so has the size of its police department, which now employs 26 full-time and six part-time officers.
Because of this, our current police facility no longer meets our community’s needs, nor does it support current best practices for modern safety forces operation:
- The building is not up to present-day safety and security standards, creating potential vulnerabilities for visitors, officers and the public.
- The existing lobby is very small and has no public restrooms. Limited space also presents a challenge in the event of domestic or dangerous situations and officers' ability to separate individuals.
- There are no private meeting rooms for visitors and officers to discuss sensitive matters.
- The addition of a safe room would offer an additional level o f protection for the public, especially those involved in a domestic or stalking situation, or those fearing they're being followed while in public. A safe room would also offer a designated space for hosting custody exchanges when needed.
- A meeting room would be used for police training, seminars and community engagement, allowing such events to be held on campus.
- The current building has insufficient room for storing evidence and property, as well as conducting all inventory logging of those items.
- Drug processing room: There is insufficient room for inventorying and examining evidence and conducting necessary tests on suspected drugs.
- An adequate indoor garage is needed to hold vehicles for processing. This area must be secure and out of the weather.
- The current armory is so small it does not meet storage standards for a commercial building's fire code. More room is needed for securing weapons belonging to the department and those being held in connection with incidents or awaiting trial.
- State law now requires stations to have interview rooms equipped with audio and visual recording devices, a standard not met at the current facility.
- Increased office space is needed for detectives and juvenile officers to conduct interviews and to hold diversion hearings for youth, as well as completing police reports.
- Designated space is needed for storing records, which are currently kept in several different areas of the building and a semitrailer parked outside the building.
- The locker room is small, crowded and in need of more/larger lockers to accommodate officers and their gear. Additional locker room space is also needed to accommodate both male and female officers, as well as future hiring needs.
- The current jail includes only three cells, none of which are equipped with a toilet or sink, meaning officers must remove prisoners and walk them to a separate bathroom - something potentially dangerous for both officers and the public.
- Current jail standards also require a separate area for adult prisoners and juvenile prisoners, as well as male and female prisoners, so they remain out of hearing and sight distance of one another. Currently, the three existing cells do not meet these standards.
Likewise, our current fire facility - which is housed in the basement of an old schoolhouse (currently the town hall) built over 100 years ago - is also too small for our quickly growing department. Not only is the space inadequate for housing and training our current staff, but they have had to resort to inefficient, off-site storage of supplies, equipment, vehicles and apparatus. In addition:
- The current facility offers no space for personnel to safely decontaminate - a threat to the ongoing health of the firefighters.
- Due to limited space, it is not possible to designate gender-specific areas. All areas are currently shared by personnel of both genders, including some firefighters sleeping in the same room.
- There is inadequate locker space for staff.
- There is no space for trainings or meetings to take place on-site, so they must be held elsewhere of in space belonging to another department.
- There is no space for housing physical fitness equipment - one of the primary ways personnel spend lengthy on-call hours.
- Due to the demanding physical requirements of both police and fire-rescue personnel, both in the field and during extended shifts lasting up to 24 hours, this remains a necessity for these departments.
- All bay spaces in the existing garage are occupied, so there is no room for additional or command vehicles. More space will also be needed to accommodate future community growth and corresponding hiring needs.
- With no designated space for storing essential supplies, these items are currently scattered around the inside and outside of the fire building.
Once blueprints are prepared and all necessary construction documents and permits acquired, it's estimated that the building will take approximately 14 months to complete (projected to begin sometime in September 2023 and finishing in or around November 2024), though this projected timeline is subject to change.
Preliminary renderings of the new safety facility are shown below (all are subject to change):
Front: 3D view from South
Top: 3D view from North
Zone layout plan
The proposed location for a new joint fire and police station building is off Sunset Drive. Constructing a new safety facility in this location would require the addition of a connecting road to Cleveland-Massillon Road, which would help rejuvenate the circle, reduce traffic issues and expand our pedestrian network to make the township more friendly to walkers, bike riders and more.
Open houses will be held at both existing police and fire station facilities ahead of election day, with details announced at a later date. During these open houses, Copley Township Police Department Chief Michael Mier, and Copley Township Fire Department Chief Chris Bower, will lead tours of both locations, which will be free and open to the public.