China Grove councilmen consider options for best use of public safety and town hall spaces

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
CHINA GROVE ó A new proposal on revamping the town’s Public Safety Building would switch the police department and town hall.
Under the proposal, the police department would move out of the Public Safety Building on North Main Street and relocate to the town hall building on Swink Street.
The fire department would switch sides, moving to the police side which would be expanded to provide multiple bays.
That would leave the current fire department area to be reworked for town offices.
Another option would be to switch the police and fire departments, providing an expanded fire department area.
The building, once a car dealership, has numerous problems as cited in an engineering and environmental study done more than two years ago.
A major issue is getting the firetrucks in and out of the building with a single bay that opens onto a busy Main Street.
Aldermen made no decision, but gave Town Manager Gary Pless and the committee working on the project the go-ahead to proceed with securing funding.
Pless said Option 2 involving the town hall and police department switch would be a cost effective way of meeting needs, including doing renovations needed on Town Hall.
Preliminary figures put the cost of Option 2 at $1.4 million and Option 1 at $1.1 million.
Aldermen Allen Welter and Butch Bivens serve on the committee along with the town staff.
Welter and Pless said Option 2 gained momentum at the last meeting.
“Option 2 would put Town Hall on Main Street,” Pless said.
Town officials are looking at various funding scenarios, most likely a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan or combination loan-grant.
Pless said there is a possibility that some of the money could be a grant through the stimulus funds.
The board agreed for Pless to continue working on securing financing.
In other matters, the board heard information or acted as follows:
– Advised Public Works Director David Ketner to hold off on buying new trucks.
Ketner said the money is in the current budget. He asked if it was OK to go ahead with the purchase.
Mayor Don Bringle cited the problems with county and state budgets, saying he wants an update on the China Grove budget before going forward with big-ticket purchases.
– Set a schedule of budget sessions starting on May 7 with the the general fund. The board will discuss the water and sewer fund on May 14. Additional meetings will be scheduled as needed. The meetings will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Municipal Building.
You may contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.