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City Council commits to Fire Station 3 site

Hendersonville City Council agree to buy 2 acres on Shepherd Street at Old Spartanburg Highway for Fire Station No. 3. Hendersonville City Council agree to buy 2 acres on Shepherd Street at Old Spartanburg Highway for Fire Station No. 3.

The Hendersonville City Council made a big commitment last week to build a third fire station, agreeing to buy 2 acres on Shepherd Street at Old Spartanburg Highway for $266,500 and to add a fire company that will cost city taxpayers $767,000 a year starting in 2023.

 

The council signaled during a budget retreat in February that it was willing to move ahead on a Fire Station 3, six years after the city built Fire Station 2 on Sugarloaf Road for $3 million. And the council on Thursday also accepted a $1.25 million federal grant that will enable the fire department to add 12 firefighters for an additional engine company.
“At this point all we’ve done is acquire the property,” City Manager John Connet said. “We have no schedule as it relates to building the station.” The next step would be a preliminary design and construction cost projections, he said. “More than likely we would finance it,” he said.
The City Council learned something about fire construction with Fire Station 2, Caraker said.
“We can get a better product a little bit cheaper,” he said. But with construction costs soaring now compared with recession prices, the cost of the new building is likely to exceed the Sugarloaf project. “If we spend $4 million it will probably be equal to No. 2. We’re finding that with everything.”
The city is buying the land from George and Ann Marie Gosnell of Zirconia. It’s assessed for tax purposes at $57,200. A staff memo said the city looked at a 2.2-acre site nearby and learned that it had an asking price of $600,000. The property is outside the city limits, on the northeastern corner of Shepherd Street and Old Spartanburg Highway. The consultant’s report recommended a site in the southeastern quadrant of the city.
“We’re trying to get as far out as we can to provide coverage,” Caraker said. “We’ve got to get to Upward Road in 4 minutes.” Voluntarily annexed in order to get city water and sewer, commercial businesses on Upward Road at I-26, including four hotels, are served by city fire and police.
Fire Chief Joe Vindigni presented a report from consultants Brooks Innovative Solutions in February that recommended a new fire station. Total emergency calls have increased 167% from 2009 to 2017, to 4,768, and are forecast to increase to 10,104 in 2023 and 17,905 in 2028. In order to meet the optimum response time of 4 minutes for fires and emergencies like a heart attack, the city needed a Fire Station 3 in the Spartanburg Highway area. The report also said that the city needed a new fire company operating out of Fire Station 1 downtown or in a new fire station. The City Council is addressing that, too. The board voted t accept a $1.25 million SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant. The grant covers 75% of the personnel cost for two years and 35% in year 3. After that the city picks up the entire cost, at $767,000 per year.
The Fire Station 3 property is zoned residential in the city’s extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction. Once the sale closes, the city would take the property into the municipal boundaries.
“Under state statute we can annex our own property,” Connet said. He said he’s not expecting too much opposition from neighbors.
“WLOS talked to the lady on the corner. She had no objection to it," he said. "She liked the idea of having the fire station next to them. Looking at the property across the street and what is happening in the area we feel like it’s an opportunity to put a government structure with the right buffering” on the site.
The property the city is buying surrounds a small home on the northeast corner of the intersection.
“We may have interest in buying that property if she’s willing to sell but we haven’t approached her yet,” Connet said.