Special to Iredell Free News
The relocation of Fire Station 1 is moving ahead after the Statesville City Council’s unanimous approval Monday night to build the new station on property located on Wilson Lee Blvd between Garner Bagnal Blvd and Western Ave.
Recently, council members agreed that its highest capital priority is replacing Fire State 1. Officials have had several discussions in closed session about selecting a site for the new station that will provide the best coverage for the area.
During Monday’s meeting, all their efforts resulted in the decision to enter into an agreement with the development arm of the Statesville Housing Authority (Iredell-Statesville Community Enrichment Corporation) to obtain the property off Wilson Lee Boulevard.
In lieu of a direct purchase of the property, the City of Statesville will instead install decorative lighting on Shelton Avenue between SHA offices on Allison Street and McElwee Street, which will complement improvements SHA is making to its property and the surrounding campus.
The agreement will also include the City Council’s commitment to, over the next five years, apply the SHA’s “payment in lieu of taxes” to projects that will benefit the SHA, which will in turn benefit the city. As part of the design, the City Council has agreed to put up a wall and/or vegetation, as well as to work with the fire department, to minimize station noise.
City Manager Ron Smith described the agreement as “more about a partnership” than a purchase.
“Through these efforts, we hope to build a station that is beneficial to the area as well as help the Housing Authority achieve its visions and goals as they move forward,” Smith said.
Although council members voted unanimously to support the project, Councilman William Morgan expressed his disappointment at the choice of location.
“Although I recognize the need for this fire station and always have, and I will vote in favor of it, I would like to restate my opinion that the location on Shelton Avenue and Amity Hill Road would have been a perfect location for the building of the proposed Municipal Building, which would have included this fire station,” Morgan explained. “That location was approved by the previous council but rescinded by the current council. I will support the building of this fire station but still believe we should have stuck by the previously decided upon location.”
Staff will come back to the City Council on February 15 with plans on moving forward into the construction process, establishing a budget number and giving options for how the project will be funded.
Smith is enthusiastic about the site and the flexibility the property may allow for growth. He expects groundbreaking to occur this year and the new Fire Staion 1 to hopefully be operational by 2023.
The estimated cost is between $5 and $5.5 million.
There are no structures on the property that is bounded by Wilson Lee Blvd. on the west, Fifth Street on the east, Charlotte Avenue on the south and Wise Street on the north.
Fire Station 1, located on South Meeting Street, was built in 1952. Station 4 is Statesville’s newest station, constructed in 2011.