Fire station plans on hold

Published 9:13 am Thursday, May 28, 2009

AHOSKIE – Faced with numerous improvement projects already in progress, the Ahoskie Town Council has opted not to move forward with plans to renovate the old Charles H. Jenkins auto dealership into the town’s fire department.

Council members discussed the issue at their most recent meeting, one where architect Russell Pearlman presented plans, at the town’s bequest, to renovate the property into a fire station.

The property was donated to the town in 2008 just prior to Charles H. Jenkins relocating its dealership to NC 42 West. The town briefly leased the property back to the auto dealer and currently has a short-term contract with Wal Mart to use the facility for storage as the Ahoskie store undergoes renovation.

During Pearlman’s presentation, council members learned that the estimated costs to renovate the property for use as a fire station was $1.48 million. Another plan upped that price to nearly $2 million.

Working with Ahoskie Fire Chief Ken Dilday and Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond, Pearlman devised a plan to turn the old car dealership into the town’s fire department. His plan included five bays for the fire trucks, office space, a training room, dayroom, living quarters (for the town’s full-time paid firefighters), bathrooms, laundry room, kitchen, computer room and storage areas.

Once the discussion was launched, council members turned to Dilday for his input on the plans.

“I’m not impressed…I’m not comfortable with the bays as they are designed,” Dilday stated. “There is a need for an additional bay, which drives the total cost to around two million dollars.”

“The question is do we want to spend this kind of money right now,” Hammond asked. “We’ve got to finish the wastewater treatment plant project, the recreation park and the new police station is nearing completion.”

“We’ve got a lot on our plate; we can’t afford another two million dollars right now,” Councilman Malcolm Copeland noted.

Hammond informed the council there was interest from a yet-to-be-named source concerning the possibility of leasing the property from the town for a car lot/motorcycle business.

“Do we need to continue to look at developing this property as a fire station or do you want me to further pursue the possibility of leasing the property,” quizzed Hammond.

Council members voted unanimously to have Hammond to look into leasing the property.