John Howell Sr.- editorial 3/13/2015

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 13, 2015

John Howell Sr.

Though locations questioned; help needed with survey

Residents of Batesville whose neighborhoods will be canvassed by city firemen and water department employees can help themselves and help the city by answering a few questions about how many people live in their house and about the approximate range of household income.

No, the city’s not meddling in your business.

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They are just trying to verify that the area west of the railroad tracks is populated by people of low-to-moderate incomes. Documenting that information in the door-to-door surveys that city employees will begin next week will help the city to obtain grant funding for a new fire station to be built in the area.

So, answering those questions might someday help you or help your neighbor if firemen are needed in a hurry.

Then there’s another point that has been missing from discussions among city leaders about where a new fire station will be located. So far, the only criteria is “this (the west) side of the tracks.”

Two pieces of property — a now vacant lot behind the city hall building and the old J. P. Hudson have thus far been identified as a possible sites, but neither offers the best protection for the most residents. The best site for a new fire station to serve the west side of Batesville would be a site that does not require fire equipment to pass through the Public Square en route to a fire.
Think about it. The downtown Square impedes traffic as it flows from one side of town to the other, and both sites presently under discussion would force the fire truck to pass through the Square on its way to most locations on the west side of the tracks. Factor in school traffic and you further slow emergency vehicles and put more people along the route at risk
The site for the new fire station should be within the boundaries of Panola Avenue, Tubbs Road and the railroad tracks. Within those boundaries, fire response would be closer to homes where the fire department is most frequently called.

But while we question a location that requires fire equipment to pass through the Square, we urge you to cooperate with firemen and city water department employees when they come to your door with the survey.