Beaufort reconsidering new fire station as time runs out on borrowed money

emoody@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 22, 2012 

TOP: A conceptual drawing of a neighborhood fire station. The proposed station is estimated to cost more than $3 million and would replace a station built in 1970. BOTTOM: The fire department headquarters, shown in this conceptual drawing, is estimated to cost more than $4 million.

CITY OF BEAUFORT

Mossy Oaks residents could get a new fire station as the city of Beaufort considers plans for borrowed money it must spend by next June or face penalties.

More than $2.2 million remains from bonds sold in 2008 to raise money for projects that included the new City Hall and a courts and police building, according to a city memo.

If the money isn't spent by June 30, 2013, the city could face penalties on the low-interest bonds, said finance director Kathy Todd, who recommended the funds be used.

The firehouse project, originally to expand the Ribaut Road headquarters, was scuttled in 2009 because of the recession, but discussions about dusting it off have resurfaced every year since.

This month, fire officials presented conceptual plans to either replace the headquarters on Ribaut Road, built in 1983, or the Mossy Oaks station, built in 1970. Costs for the projects range from $1.7 million to $4.7 million. The department prefers building a new Mossy Oaks station, and city officials appeared to favor that approach.

The new station in Mossy Oaks could either be a small neighborhood location or a headquarters. A small station also could be expanded later to become a headquarters, according to the presentation.

Much of Mossy Oaks borders the town of Port Royal, which contracts with Beaufort for fire services and is in discussions about combining more services.

Land for a new station has not been located.

"The most difficult issue in this process has been coming up with a design without a piece of land to put that design on," Fire Chief Sammy Negron said during the presentation.

Plans include community space for meetings; the design also could be altered to build a one- or two-story station, depending on the location.

City Councilman Mike Sutton was wary of some of the design elements, such as the community space, because schools and other public buildings include similar areas. He said he wanted to keep costs low.

"We're way past the time when we're going to build things because the fire department says they need them," he said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeonBeaufort

Related content:

Beaufort, Port Royal consider joint fire department headquarters

Recession delays fire station project, Feb. 9, 2009

Preliminary fire station plans approved, June 5, 2008

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