City Council Discusses New Fire DepartmentJune 5th, 2009 by Joe Burgess
The Monticello City Council approved the Monticello Economic Development Commission to apply for a grant for the construction of a new fire department through FEMA during its regular session June 4.According to MEDC Executive Director Truman Hamilton, FEMA opened the grant process for construction of fire departments. He said the city will request a $500,000 grant with an 80-20 match.
Hamilton said the prospects of receiving the grant are good considering the city meets the majority of the criteria. He said the only downside is the population served. While the area has a lot of acreage to cover, the population density is not as great as other cities.
However, the majority of the other criteria work in Monticello’s favor, according to Hamilton. The city is already at an advantage in the application process since they’ve already started the project, and have land to build the station.
Hamilton said the city began work years ago, with the purchase of the W.C. Whaley property. Other factors that will aid in the grant application include: the age and condition of the current facilities, accessibility issues with the new ladder truck, and the willingness to match the grant funds.
Hamilton said he envisions a 20 percent match from the city on the cost of building. If the $500,000 grant is approved, the city will match approximately $100,000. Once the grant is approved, the city will have two years to build the new fire station; this includes selecting a bid, a design that conforms to current codes and a location.
The grant requires that the city specify that it owns property to construct the fire station at the time of the application. While the city must specify that it owns property for the facility to be placed on, it does not have to specify the exact location. Therefore, the city will not be required to utilize the Whaley property.
According to Hamilton, the Whaley property was considered as a possible location due to its proximity to the township and older buildings in the area. As well, it will provide more accessible storage for the large ladder truck, which is currently housed in Station 2.
“We have a need and an opportunity to get this,” Hamilton said. He explained to the council that before he can apply for the grant he will need authorization from the council.
Hudson said, “We support the new fire station 100 percent and have for years.” However, she expressed concern about the location of the new fire station, saying the city needs to make certain it is in the best location to service the city.
“We have made mistakes in the past and costly ones,” Hudson said.
She went on to say she doesn’t want the city to select the Whaley property as the location simply because it is owned by the city. However, Rogers noted that the Whaley property was purchased for the reason of constructing new police and fire departments, as noted in previous council minutes.
Hudson made a motion to form a committee to conduct an independent study to decide the location of the fire department. Gillespie suggested a member from each ward form the committee, and Rogers added that the fire chief should be included.
The council approved authorizing MEDC to apply for a grant for the construction of a fire department through FEMA, as well as approving a committee to conduct a study on the location of the new station. The committee comprises: Sherrie Gillespie, Ward 1; Carolyn Brown, Ward 2; Raymond Hubbard, Ward 3; and Beverly Hudson, Ward 4 and committee chair.
In other business:
- Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Glenda Nichols reported on the new Roots and Rhythm Festival schedule. Nichols said what started out as a nightmare actually has a silver lining.
Though rescheduling the festival put a damper on the event at first, it will coincide well with the beginning of school and other special events, Nichols said. The festival is scheduled the week before school starts, Aug. 14 and 15. As well, Nichols said despite rescheduling, they only lost two vendors.
Nichols also reported they will not have fireworks at Lake Monticello on the Fourth of July due to Drew County Speedway and the Monticello Country Club hosting firework shows. Instead, the Chamber will save the fireworks show for the Christmas Parade, scheduled the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
- Kathryn Collier of the Drew County Facilities Board and Drew County Housing requested the city sell the property located on Jackson Street to Drew County Housing. Collier said this space will allow for a maintenance area and much-needed office and storage space. Drew County Housing already purchased part of the property. Mayor Joe Rogers suggested Drew County Housing purchase enough of the property to square off the property lines. Collier said she would present the idea to her board.
- MEDC Executive Director Hamilton provided the MEDC Report. According to Hamilton, the revolving loan has still not been funded, though they applied Nov. 1, 2008. No action has been taken on the grant for a waste bin and dump truck; though he said they have a good chance of receiving those funds. The Farmers’ Market opened last Saturday and will run during normal hours. The Monticello Airport is in the process of procuring grants for projects, including building a fence to keep deer off the runway.
- The council approved a resolution to accept bids for the construction of ball field lights for the city Sports Complex. Rogers said the price is inclusive. Carolyn Brown asked about the dim lighting near the women’s restroom. Tim Chase said the ball field lights should provide more adequate lighting in that area once installed.
- The council approved authorizing the mayor “to gravel the east parking lot at the Sports Complex for upcoming tournaments using funds from excess sales tax of up to $10,000.” The mayor said the gravel will address the muddy parking area and will provide a base for an asphalt parking lot in the future.
- Finance Director Kimberly Fletcher presented the Financial Report. Fletcher said though March, April and May are usually the slowest months, the budget is up year-to-date. According to Fletcher, the city was down only one month, May. Hudson noted this is a good report considering state budgets are down.
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