Bibb County has bought property that will become the home for a new fire station to serve the eastern part of the county.
Bibb County Chairman Sam Hart said the fire station will help the Macon-Bibb County Fire Departments ISO rating -- the rating used by insurance companies based on the proximity of houses and businesses to the nearest fire station -- and could spur development in the Jeffersonville Road area.
Theres frontage (on the property) to Jeffersonville Road that could be a place for a convenience store, Hart said. This could be a prime place for economic development.
The $99,500 purchase last week was made with money from $13 million in bonds issued by the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority on behalf of the county. The property is located at 3767 Donnan Road, where it intersects with Jeffersonville Road.
Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins said the department wanted to improve response times on calls in that part of the county.
When weve done our internal studies, (the response times) were a little longer than wed like it, Riggins said. We have a station on Weaver Road, but theres no easy way to get to (the Jeffersonville Road area). Its a pretty tough run, and this will certainly enhance our protection level.
Riggins said he hopes ground will be broken for the station by the end of this year or early 2014, with the station in operation by 2015. It will cost about $1.4 million to build the firehouse and about another $1 million for equipment and staffing. Plans still need approval from the commissioners.
The fire station will join a recently completed station on New Forsyth Road that opened in July, as well as one now being built on Heath Road. Both of those stations are being funded by money from the extra penny of sales tax on the dollar.
The fire department also has plans to replace the aging station on Shurling Drive in east Macon, but it hasnt decided where the new station will be located. That station also will be built with SPLOST money.
Riggins proposed that the Jeffersonville Road fire station be a part of the SPLOST projects, but there was only money for the other three stations.
Hart and the county commission have drawn some criticism about issuing bonds for new projects with consolidation of Macon and Bibb County coming Jan. 1.
But Hart defended the decision, noting that some of the property purchases made with the bond money -- such as the land for the fire station and the former Sears building on Third Street -- will be used by the government to provide necessary services to the community.
Were hoping to try to get ahead of the curve, Hart said. By the time 2014 comes around, we hope to have a lot of the infrastructure in place. ... Were trying to get ahead of the things we saw coming. Its a timely way to save the community money. I think the new government is going to have to accomplish these issues one way or another.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.