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County approves EMS station near downtown Salisbury

By Jessie Burchette

Salisbury Post

County commissioners have approved construction of a $1.1 million EMS station in downtown Salisbury that will shave minutes off response times.

After years of discussions and efforts to find a site, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners has agreed to buy a lot at the corner of East Council and North Shaver streets from the city of Salisbury for $21,500.

The city has agreed to lease to the county additional property as needed adjacent to the site, which is behind the East Innes Street city fire station.

The county hasn’t had a downtown EMS station for more than six years, since the previous leased facility failed to meet code inspections.

Commissioners also approved a lump sum fee of $75,000 for KKA Architecture of Salisbury to design the structure.

The contract specifies that if the low construction bid exceeds the project budget, the architect will make necessary modifications at no additional cost to the county.

The board also agreed to an updated budget for the project. In 2003, the estimated cost was $500,000.

County Manager Bill Cowan said the new budget is $1.1 million. The county estimates construction will be about $900,000, with the remainder allocated for equipment, furniture, the architectural fee and related costs.

The updated facility will be 5,000 square feet, 900 square feet more than originally planned. The metal frame-masonry wall facility will include 31/2 bays as well as living quarters for the crews. In addition to two EMS units, the station will house the county’s mobile command unit.

Cowan recommended paying for the project from the county’s fund balance.

The county will not add ambulances or crews. They will be transferred from the station on Old Concord Road.

For several years, officials have been concerned about the longer response time and have looked at dozens of sites in Salisbury. Many were rejected because of zoning issues.

Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason said the downtown station will “dramatically change the response time.”

“There had better be improved response time,” commissioners Chairman Arnold Chamberlain said.

Commissioners instructed County Attorney Jay Dees to work with the city of Salisbury to get the property rezoned to allow for the EMS station.

“Don’t spend any money until it’s rezoned,” Vice Chairman Chad Mitchell said.

Under the timeline, the project will be ready to go to bid in June.

Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@salisburypost.com.

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