DAVIDSON – Commissioners have authorized the next phase of a planning and review process related to pursuing a public facilities bond package to finance comprehensive renovations to town-owned buildings. And an added possibility – which could address space requirements for the town’s fire and police departments for the next half century – is a completely new fire station.
Work in progress endorsed by commissioners involves engineering and architectural evaluations to identify renovations and cost estimates associated with transforming the 71-year-old Davidson School building on South Street into town administrative headquarters, and upgrading the current town hall building on Main Street to provide adequate space for shared police and fire service operations.
The goal is to complete an assessment of the money needed for the comprehensive project by late spring – in time to place a public facilities bond referendum on the November ballot.
And while that plan remains in place, at the town board’s April 9 meeting, during an outline of upgrade options delivered by Special Project Manager Dawn Blobaum, the prospect of eventually adding a third facility to the public facilities mix received favorable response from commissioners.
In her presentation, Blobaum pointed out “logistical hurdles” to the existing plan for expanding Davidson Fire Station 1, on the lower level of town hall, that would have pushed vehicle bays closer to Jackson Street. The conversation with commissioners that ensued about complications related to another possible expansion concept – as well as concerns if either approach represented a viable long-term solution – fueled interest in the idea for a relocated Station 1.
Blobaum’s report indicated Mayor Rusty Knox “has been working on an alternative” related to securing a site for a new station. Knox said he hoped to be able to share more details about a potential station location at the meeting, but negotiations were still in progress.
Construction of a separate Station 1 would address fire department needs and also allow for future police department expansion into the lower level of town hall that now is home to the fire station. That approach, based on Blobaum’s report, would provide a 50-year solution to both departments’ needs instead of the 20-year fix initially targeted.
Commissioners unanimously, with David Sitton absent, supported tweaking the design and cost analysis process to add a separate evaluation of less-extensive fire department upgrades. Commissioners emphasized they wanted to have numbers affiliated with smaller-scale “short-term fix” improvements available to consider if – and only if – acquisition of suitable property for a future new station appears likely.