ENID, Okla. —
Moving fire station No. 4 to a secluded park bordered on all sides by homes is not a land grab, City Manager Eric Benson told residents of those homes Tuesday.
Rather, he said, the decision to relocate the substation to Lions Park is based on safety reasons.
“If you come to my house or any of my six siblings, you’ll notice that none of us have childhood mementos or pictures. We don’t have anything in my life that I possessed prior to my 22nd birthday, because in the town that we lived in, it was deemed unnecessary to build a fire house on that side of town,” Benson said. “So when my parents’ home caught fire, it burned to the ground without any response.”
The house could have been saved, he said.
Jerry Hager has lived across the street from Lions Park for 47 years, he told Enid City Commission during the public comment phase of Tuesday’s meeting.
“It’s used daily. Not by 30 or 40 people, but there’s some people there, weather permitting, daily. I never once thought in that 47 years I’d have to worry about the city coming in and taking that park. I just didn’t think that would happen,” he said. “This is our quality of life. I don’t think we ought to be even discussing this item.”
Protest organizer Paula Nightengale said the neighborhood is pro-city and pro-fire department, but Benson later said any criticism of the decision to relocate the station should be aimed at him, not Enid Fire Department.
Benson said if the plan moves forward, there would be “a much better park” with modern equipment.
“There’s another side to this issue, folks. And when our fire department wishes to see to your health and safety, it is not in a land grab. It’s an effort to make your life better and protect you,” Benson said. “If given the authority to build this firehouse there, we will not consider this without a level discussion across all neighborhoods. We’ll have an opportunity for input and design, and argument back and forth.”