After almost two years of discussions among city officials, a $1.5 million bond project to build a new fire facility was approved by voters in November 2012.
The city’s web site, www.roswellgov.com, helpfully tracks the progress of other projects okayed on the same bond referendum. But no mention is made of the fire station.
And the clock is ticking. Legally, the funds designated for a bond project has to be spent within a specified amount of time after the referendum passes.
“Yes, there are deadlines,” said City Administrator Kay Love. “Basically we have three years to spend the money.
“We are not in danger, at least not at the moment, of missing the spending deadline. Mayor and council are actively discussing potential sites for the fire station and I am hopeful that a decision will be made in January.”
The land where the existing station is located won’t accommodate the design of a new station, which has to be big enough to park ladder trucks and house additional fire personnel in the future, according to Councilwoman Becky Wynn, council public safety liaison.
Mayor Jere Wood said after exhaustively searching for an appropriate two-acre site, the city had few options. “We followed some blind leads for a long way until we ran into problems we couldn’t overcome.”
There are very few options left, Wood said. “It’s down to two choices. I hope we can get this resolved in the next few months.”
Though Wood declined to identify the two locations under consideration, he did say that one is a privately owned property that council didn’t believe was available, but found out recently that it would be.
Typically, the city does not disclose information on negotiations for any real estate it might be acquiring until a deal is reached..
The second potential site, Wynn said, is still city-owned Big Creek Park on Old Alabama Road. It has always been a candidate, although there has been some public push back since it became known as a possibility.
“It’s still on our list, and although it’s probably not our first choice, it’s still one of the two choices,” she said.
Those who oppose use of park land for a public safety facility fear disruption of the park’s recreational use, Wynn said. “But we’d be asking for only two acres out of 164, and there would be bathrooms and no loss of existing trails.”
Additionally, the two acres are at the extreme edge of the park, Wood said.
Three years from the time of the bond’s passage would put the spending deadline for the project in November 2015. It’s not immediate, but as government construction projects tend to move more slowly than those in the private sector, it’s close enough to impart some urgency to the site choice.
Wynn, who will be public safety liaison until the end of the year, said she is making the decision on the location of the new station her priority.
“And I’m sure whoever takes up the reins after me will do the same,” she said.