Kannapolis council OKs new fire station, renovations

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 24, 2015

By Susan Shinn

For The Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis Fire Department is getting new digs.

City Council on Monday evening unanimously approved a $5.1 million capital project ordinance and reimbursement resolution to build a new Fire Station No. 2 at 819 Richard Ave. at a cost of $3.9 million. The amount also includes $1.2 million for immediate renovation of Fire Station No. 3 at 2209 Florida Ave.

The city’s Capital Improvement Plan called for the station to be renovated in 2021, but ongoing roof leaks and water damage repairs — the firefighters have resorted to placing a tarp on the roof — necessitated that project be moved up.

“You have the capacity in the early years of the Capital Improvement Plan to handle this,” said Eric Davis, city finance director, explaining that the city would reimburse itself for both projects.

“Public safety is our biggest priority,” Mayor Darrell Hinnant said.

Now that council has approved the project, Fire Chief Ernie Hiers can consult with an architect on renovation options.

Hiers also detailed the fire department’s coverage area map, showing how response times can be improved if stations 3 and 4 are ultimately moved. (At present, Station No. 4 is located in Concord, as the city inherited this station when it took over the Winecoff area.) The city aims for a 4½-minute travel time on calls, Hiers explained. Travel time begins once firefighters have donned turnout gear and left the station.

Eddie Smith, deputy city manager, noted that calls have changed over the years — from calls for structure fires to calls for medical assistance — and that no standard exists to dictate that a fire station be built when a certain amount of households is built.

Anyone who’s seen the conditions of fire stations 2 and 3 would understand the need for the upgrades, City Councilman Tom Kincaid said.

In other business, council voted unanimously to approve a special events application process. Smith said that the city hosted more than 150 events a year, and that such an application would streamline the process for event organizers.

In addition, it would serve as a method to review and approve events within the city, create a one-stop shop for organizers, assign needed city staff or equipment, track use of city streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure, and track and maintain a database of citywide events.

“It’s to help our event organizers produce a safe and impactful event,” Smith said.

City Council also unanimously voted to approve text amendments to supplemental design standards for the Center City District, addressing building frontage requirements and allowing for pedestrian-friendly development.

In his remarks, Legg noted the city’s Christmas Tree Lighting at 6 p.m. Nov. 28 at Village Park, and the Kannapolis Christmas Parade downtown at 6 p.m. Dec. 12.

Legg also said that the new City Hall will be dedicated at 4 p.m. Dec. 14, with the City Council meeting immediately following. Staff will give building tours before and after the meeting.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.