Macon-Bibb County officials will need to look into relocating several fire stations as efforts to build a new east Bibb station move ahead, Mayor Robert Reichert said Tuesday.
In the Macon-Bibb County Commission’s Operations and Finance Committee meeting Tuesday, members agreed to transfer $850,000 of bond money that was to be used for the long-awaited east Bibb station to the former Sears Roebuck building that will become the downtown annex for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.
The transfer also came with an amendment that says the east Bibb County fire station will be given the $850,000, plus some additional money, from funds left over from two completed fire station projects.
The amendment, which was drafted at the request of Commissioner Elaine Lucas, also says the east Bibb station is a priority for the county. Macon-Bibb is looking for a new site to build the station after environmental tests in August revealed the planned Donnan Road property could not support a fire station because of problems with the soil.
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The resolution will go to the full commission next week.
“All I want to see is the guarantee that money is there for the Donnan Road fire station and that the schedule will not be interrupted,” said Lucas, who serves the district where Fire Station No. 111 would be built.
As the county moves forward with building Fire Station No. 111, Reichert said the focus also must turn to several potential fire station relocations.
“What we are trying to do in addition (to the east Bibb station) is to maximize and get as many fire stations built as we can,” he said.
The first relocation that is expected to happen is moving the Breezy Hill Fire Station from Forsyth Road to Napier Avenue. Reichert is awaiting commission approval to sign a contract to purchase land on Napier. The new site is needed because fire trucks are having difficulty getting in and out of the Breezy Hill station, Reichert said.
Two other possible stations that could be relocated are on Shurling Drive and Pio Nono Avenue, said Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore. Where those two stations might be rebuilt remains a question.
County leaders have said it costs about $2 million to build a fire station, not including equipment.
RISING COSTS FOR RENOVATIONS
The rising costs of the renovations to the former Sears building are drawing concern from several county leaders.
A resolution that would provide an additional $1.2 million -- bumping the Sears project’s cost to $4 million, will go before the commission next week. The increasing price tag continues to surprise people involved in the project, Reichert said Tuesday.
The county needs to put out a bid to get a contract manager who would be required to keep the costs within budget, Reichert said.
The original budget was $2.7 million.
“These aren’t additional bells and whistles we’re adding. This is to make it safe and sound,” Reichert said.
The nearly $1.2 million for the renovations would include moving money from other projects.
The old Sears building was purchased by the former Bibb County Commission in 2013.
Commissioner Scotty Shepherd said Tuesday the ongoing Sears and courthouse renovation projects are money pits.
There has been $2.7 million set aside to renovate two floors of the Bibb County Courthouse.
“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do right now, but in the future if someone tries to give us an old building, tell them ‘thank you, but no,’” Shepherd said.
Renovations and construction at the 54,000-square-foot Sears building is still about half the cost of building from scratch, said Clay Murphey, who oversees special sales tax funded projects for Macon-Bibb.
About $1.75 million was spent on things such as acquiring the building, moving documents and a filing system, and repairing the roof, air conditioning system and elevators.
“That’s just getting the building ready for construction,” Murphey said. “That’s just getting the building up to code so we can put up walls.”
To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623 or find him on Twitter@stan_telegraph.