North Augusta City Council picks up discussion on location of police headquarters, fire station

January 15, 2019

North Augusta City Council’s special called meeting Monday evening was uncommonly short, lasting around 3 minutes, but Council used every minute of the hour scheduled for the study session beforehand.

During the study session, City Administrator Todd Glover gave a presentation on the potential locations of the planned Public Safety headquarters and fire station No. 1.

Glover began by going over the process the city has gone through so far: looking at locations, the purchase of property off Georgia Avenue and the preliminary design efforts.

The city purchased land off Georgia Avenue, where historic Seven Gables was located, but received backlash from the community for the decision to build police and fire structures there.

The initial plan was to include three bays in the fire station to house trucks, but due to the Neighborhood Preservation Overlay District that covers that location, Glover said the design was trimmed to two bays.

During the meeting, Public Safety Chief John Thomas said three bays could hold five trucks, and two could only hold three trucks.

Council member Pat Carpenter spoke against only building two bays.

“We as a council need to be visionaries,” Carpenter said, “We are not building for right now, we are building for three generations down the road.”

Glover then discussed whether or not the headquarters, which will be paid for by Capital Projects Sales Tax (CPST) IV, needs to be in the same place as the fire station, which will be paid for by CPST III.

Thomas said in an “ideal world, and perfect scenario” the two buildings would be in the same place, but said it is possible for them to be separate, adding the agency is in “dire need” of both.

Glover used a decision tree or chart to point out questions that need to be answered, starting with whether the two buildings should be on the same site, and if so, where they should go. Other questions included what should be done with the Seven Gables property if nothing is built there, and should the buildings conform to the Overlay District is they are built at Seven Gables.

The chart focused around three locations: the Seven Gables property, the area where the headquarters currently sits — including the Community Center — and a piece of land for sale off Martintown Road near Clay Street.

No decisions regarding the location were made during the study session, but Council members did offer some suggestions and opinions.

Council member Fletcher Dickert suggested the fire station be built on the Seven Gables property the city owns, and a new headquarters be built where the Community Center currently stands. Dickert said the city is going to continue to see a decline in the need for the community center.

Council member Ken McDowell agreed, calling the Community Center a “cost center, not a profit center.”

During the meeting after the study session, Council unanimously passed a resolution that would authorize the purchase of a new fire pumper. All members of Council were present.

The resolution states one bid was received for the pumper, and that a discount of $13,292 is offered if the price is paid in full by Jan. 31. With the discount, the price of the pumper would be $494,718. The resolution was tabled during the Jan. 7 meeting due to concerns about the price, but was unanimously removed from the table.

The resolution states that “in response to only receiving one bid, staff has investigated historical city purchases and other purchases made by other jurisdictions and believes the bid to be a valid and competitive price.”

The pumper will be paid for by proceeds of Capital Projects Sales Tax II, according to the resolution.

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