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City to build firehouse on First Street

A Brookhaven alderman balked at the purchase of land on North First Street for a fire station, even though it will be built in his ward.

Ward 2 Shannon Moore was the lone vote against the purchase of the property at 222 North First St. during the board’s meeting Tuesday. Ward 3 Alderwoman Mary Wilson and Ward 6 Alderwoman Shelley Harrigill were absent.

The property will be the site of a new Fire Station #2 currently located at Willard Street. The firehouse sits on the edge of Ward 1, directly adjacent to Ward 2, and serves the eastern portion of the city.

“I think it should have been located farther east, especially for the citizens that have been annexed into the city,” he told The Daily Leader after the meeting. “I do not agree with spending taxpayers money for an old building when the city could have purchased land and built a fire station from the ground up. It is important that the city of Brookhaven be good stewards of taxpayers’ money.”

Mayor Joe Cox said he negotiated a price of $92,500, which was within the guidelines the board gave him during a meeting with aldermen July 17. The appraisal came in at $94,000.

“We felt like we were in good shape with that,” Cox said. “So we’re looking forward to moving on with this project.”

Moore voted against the motion made after a closed-door executive session at the July 17 meeting. Wilson was absent then, too.

More than a year and a half ago, aldermen accepted a $625,000 state grant to replace the station.

The current station — a metal building constructed in the 1970s — has suffered a series of maintenance issues over the years. When the project was first proposed, Weeks recommended that the new station be built larger than the existing facility. He said city fire trucks are barely able to fit into the current structure’s bays.

The grant amount of $625,000 is in the city’s general fund, drawing interest at a standard rate. The fire station is expected to cost $850,000.

Ryan Holmes with Dungan Engineering said the boundary survey and historical research of the property is also finished. An environmental study for the property has been completed. Soil samples were taken to check for contaminants and spills that might have occurred.

“It’s been used for a lot of things over the years,” Dungan said.

Everything checked out, he said.

Ward 4 Alderman Jason Snider asked Dungan for a timeline on the project, but the engineer wasn’t ready to present that information Tuesday night.

“We’ll be happy to develop something pretty quick on that for y’all to have,” he said.