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City to explore fire, police expansion

Ward 2 Alderman Terry L. Bates is pushing for a new fire station and police precinct in the Brookhaven community east of the railroad tracks.

“It’s been an idea for years,” Bates said about the added services that would help with emergency situations in the area. “We’ve got to work on a fire station.”

Bates said his first priority for the community there is a fire station because the police department has patrol officers but concerning fires in the area, “the closer they are, the greater chance we have of saving the house.”

He said that when the new fire station was built on Brookhaven Street in 1995, it was planned that the next station would be built on the east side of town. Bates said that the only station on that side is the station on Willard Street. The station is old and needs to be replaced. He also said he’d like to see it moved to a more populated part of the community.

Carolyn Reed has lived in the east Brookhaven community for 51 years and said she’s supportive of a fire station. She said she didn’t realize how much the community needed a station until residents discussed what would happen during an emergency if a train was coming.

Currently there is no way to cross the train tracks while a train is crossing through downtown Brookhaven. The only bridges over the train tracks are on Industrial Park Road and Highway 84. If an emergency were to happen while a train were going through town, assistance from other fire stations as well as back-up from the police department could be delayed.

Bates said the residents of the community regularly voice their need and want for a fire station and precinct closer to their homes.

“If I don’t try to do it, I’m not doing my job,” Bates said. He said the project has had such a slow start due to turnaround on the board. A new board has to get caught up on the project and start the whole discussion over. He said he wants to get started on the project within the next six months to begin planning for the structure, land and money needed so that the plans would be available if the board changes in the future.

“I do believe that within the next year we could have something,” Bates said. “We just have to get started on it as soon as possible.”

He said that Brookhaven Police Department Chief Bobby Bell and Brookhaven Fire Department Chief Tony Weeks are aware of the idea to add a station and precinct.

“If you don’t ever do it,” Bates said about his push to take the first step in the planning process, “it might not get started.”