Fort Mill Times

Plans for N. Dobys Bridge Rd. fire substation on hold

Design work on a renovated fire station in Fort Mill will have to wait.

Fort Mill Town Council deferred a request Monday morning that would have allowed Town Manager Dennis Pieper to negotiate a design-build contract for Station No. 2 at 1881 N. Dobys Bridge Road. Work is needed to convert the former residence into a suitable station.

“This is a renovation project,” said Chipper Wilkerson, interim Fort Mill Fire Department chief.

In February, then Chief Jeff Hooper told Council something would be needed to serve the fast-growing southern reaches of town. The town brought on the former residence about a year prior as a fire station, but upgrades were needed from a commercial grade driveway to room for several firefighters at a time.

Options for the fire department were to upgrade the current location or build a separate substation. Upgrade options might cost more than $200,000 but a new substation might be up to $1.5 million, Hooper told Council.

Council didn’t vote on a course of action. Wilkerson said Monday morning he doesn’t have the cost of an up-fit. Requests went out in May for a company to design and build the station. The department held a meeting with companies June 1, and had three bids June 17.

Council could have voted to begin negotiations with one of those bidders Monday, but waited to better digest information on the fire department plans. Wilkerson said negotiations on needed upgrades will determine final costs.

“We’ll talk about prices, construction, all of that,” he said.

The request put out in May was for an apparatus bay for two trucks, and facilities inside for up to six firefighters.

Wilkerson said there isn’t a set time for when work needs to be completed, but Pieper said there is a need. Heated bays are needed; Now, the trucks sit outside on a residential grade driveway. Maintaining or improving the department’s ISO, a rating used to determine insurance rates, is dependent on a full-functioning station in the area.

“It’ll help,” Wilkerson said.

Council likely will make a recommendation for or against negotiations with the top bidder at its next meeting, July 23.

“We have to do something,” Pieper said. “ISO has already contacted us. You have to have a station out there.”

The town has $500,000 budgeted this year for work on the new station. The rest would come from the budget year beginning Oct. 1.

Historical request

Also at the June 22 Council meeting, the town accepted a grant that could help preserve or enhance some of Fort Mill’s most historic properties.

The town submitted for a grant in February through the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. The $25,000 matching grant would help create a framework for the town’s historic review board to make land use decisions in historic areas, something submitted as a need as far back as 1997.

“This would be an opportunity to take that recommendation from almost 20 years ago,” said Joe Cronin, town planning director.

Members of the historic review board told staff in recent months that they need more guidance in making decisions in the town’s historic district.

“This would give them objective criteria,” Cronin said.

Historic preservation grants involve federal funds from the U.S. Department of the Interior, administered through state agencies. Grants are 50-50 matches, with municipalities paying costs upfront and being reimbursed.

Councilwoman Guynn Savage believes the money will help the review board moving forward.

“I think it’s good any time we can have a process,” she said.

John Marks •  803-547-2353