The City of Albany has taken the necessary step in trying to secure a new fire station facility at a combination public hearing and special meeting last Tuesday evening, August 14.
The public hearing, held at city hall with all council members and a few citizens on hand, was conducted by Judy Keltner of the Lake Cumberland Area Development District, who will be directing the application process.
The hearing, a requirement when applying for federal funding from the Community Development Block Grant Program, saw everyone in favor of the proposed new fire department project.
Keltner passed out information about the CDBG program and explained the hearing process to the council, as well as five private citizens–including Albany Fire Chief Robert Roeper, who were in attendance.
Keltner said the application deadline for this round of block grant funding was September 4 and comments, either written or oral, gathered at the hearing would be presented along with the application in support of the project when making application for funding.
The city is requesting the maximum allowed under the CDBG grant program for this cycle in the amount of a half-million dollars. The total cost of the project is estimated at $600,000 to construct a new fire station and Albany Mayor Nicky Smith said the remaining $100,000 in local funds is set aside to complete the project if the grant is approved.
The mayor had earlier stated he felt good about the city’s chances of receiving the grant.
Keltner also said that the city also already has an architect lined up for the project if it is funded, that being Sewell and Sewell Architects.
Three members of the public that were on hand made recorded comments, all in support of the project.
Fire chief Roeper said it (new fire station) was something that had been needed for some time. “We have vehicles sitting outside (the current fire station location)…it’s just not big enough. We need to get our trucks and equipment inside,” he added.
Jay Stockton commented he felt the city had a wonderful volunteer fire department, offering quality service to the community. “Anything we can do to back them, I’m 100 percent behind it,” he said.
Councilman Tony Delk first questioned the availability of the additional $100,000 needed and after being assured by the mayor the funds were available in the budget, said he was totally for the project, and it would be a big benefit to both the city and the county.
Councilwoman Tonya Thrasher also expounded on Roeper’s comments about lack of space to include the fact that the current fire station is in a location where there is heavily congested traffic, making it more difficult for response time from the fire station. “The new location would be more convenient for traffic safety,” she commented.
Mayor Smith thanked the county for giving a Deed of Conveyance for the property in which the new proposed fire station would be located between the Twin Lakes Family Wellness Center and Air Evac/EMS property across from the high school in north Albany.
The mayor noted the location is more centralized to all the county and said the city does have the remaining funds above the maximum grant amount to fund the construction of the building.
He further said that Clinton County Judge/Executive Lyle Huff, who was unable to attend the hearing, had called him to say that he and the Clinton County Fiscal Court members were in full support of the proposed project.
Following the brief public hearing, the special meeting was called to order with the one item of business on the agenda.
A motion was made and passed unanimously to approve a resolution to apply for the CDBG grant in the amount of $500,000. The motion also stipulated that if the grant funds were for some reason not approved to do the project, the deed of conveyance would revert back to the county.
The next regular meeting of Albany City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, September 4 at 5 p.m. at city hall and is open to the public.