Fayette County

Gray calls meeting of Lexington council to discuss firehouse closure

Lexington Vice Mayor Jim Gray has called a special meeting of the Urban County Council for 1 p.m. Tuesday to address the temporary closing of Firehouse No. 4 on Jefferson Street.

The firehouse was closed for 24 hours Saturday by Mayor Jim Newberry's administration as a cost-cutting measure.

"I called the meeting because when it comes to people's lives and safety, they deserve a say in what happens," Gray said Sunday evening. "I think we need to give the public a chance to understand what's going on, because they're anxious."

Newberry has said the safety of area residents was not in jeopardy because there are four other fire houses within a 1.6-mile radius of the closed station. Firefighters protested Saturday, saying the closing endangered nearby residents.

Gray, who is running against Newberry for mayor in 2010, said he called the meeting in response to concerns expressed by several council members, including Linda Gorton, Andrea James and Tom Blues.

Gray said he expects the city's finance department and the fire department to provide information at the meeting.

In late November, Newberry said the city might consider layoffs, pay cuts, furloughs and the elimination of city programs to stem an estimated shortfall of $12 million to $13 million. City government division directors were asked to propose ways to cut expenses by 5 percent.