Fairview Town Council Addresses Final Aspect of Proposed New Fire Station No. 1
After two recent Council meetings that were somewhat quarrelsome, the Council and Citizen’s Response Group (CRG) members returned to the yeoman-like work of finalizing the design and funding aspects of the proposed new Fire Station No. 1 at its work session of January 16. This is not to say there weren’t continuing disagreements about several aspects of the project, nor was the meeting without a surprise move.
Mayor Culbertson set the scene early however when he offered, “There remain several important issues to resolve but reasonable people can find ways to agree on both short-term and long-term solutions.” This comment was in answer to continuing concerns expressed by several residents of the Domain sub-division that adjoins the proposed site of the new fire station. Phillip D’Amico, a Domain homeowner spoke again about his concerns regarding regular and frequent flooding of his and his neighbor’s properties even during just moderate rains. D’Amico believes constructing the new fire station at the Lakeridge Drive site will seriously aggravate an already problematic situation. Mayor Culbertson assured D’Amico and others that the town is committed to developing a satisfactory solution. During this portion of the discussion, the President of the Domain Homeowners Association, Robert Wilson, shared that of the 36 homes in the Domain HOA, nine had experienced distressed sales and essentially depleted the reserves of the HOA because of their inability to pay HOA dues.
Most of the work session was devoted to a meticulous review of construction costs by Lee Howell, the chief estimator for Byrne Construction. Howell noted that of the two remaining options before the Council, the construction costs differ by about $200,000. The difference is attributable to a conference room that may or may not remain in the final plan. At one time, the conference room was also envisioned to be a hardened Emergency Operations Center, but even higher cost estimates eliminated that idea.
A member of the CRG cautioned the Council and CRG members that the construction costs of the project do not include nearly $1 million in additional costs for items related to the station’s relocation, the cost of securing an additional ambulance, and additional EMS personnel. For now, the Council will keep both options under active consideration.
A Council Sub-Committee consisting of members Mattei, Feldman and Nichols presented their report and recommendation to the Council for a fire station operations study to be conducted by a third-party consulting company, ESCI Emergency Services International. Councilmember Mattei noted the company has conducted 800 similar studies across the US and if approved by the Council will examine fire station operations including ambulance services. The cost of the study is $23,500. The study would be scheduled to begin on January 22 and conclude by March 15. The recommendation was approved by the Council.
Mayor Culbertson then reviewed a template that identifies how the construction project might be funded without impacting property tax rates even though the final cost of the project has not yet been finally determined. What is relevant for now are the various elements that might constitute an approach to the alternative funding the Mayor has alluded to several times in the last few months. The template follows:
Just as the work session was beginning to wind down, several members of the CRG recommended delaying the bond proposal from May until November in order to allow the most deliberate consideration of the project. Several other CRG members suggested relocating the site of the new fire station so as not to negatively impact the Domain sub-division. The surprise noted at the beginning of this article --- the Council will reconsider locating the construction site to the current location of old Fire Station No. 1 that also lies along Greenville Avenue (S.H. 5) but about 750 feet south of the Lakeridge Drive site.
A final Council work session is scheduled for Thursday, January 24 at 4:30 pm in Council Chambers at Fairview Town Hall.