Town partners with Providence Fire on renovations

WEDDINGTON – Town council members met Friday, May 3, to put the finishing touches on the renovation agreement between Weddington and the Providence Volunteer Fire Department.

The agreement, which lays out the first half of the renovation project, authorizes Weddington to provide up to $220,000 to the fire department for the intial phase. Council members said the final price may be lower, quoting an earlier estimate of around $197,000. The $220,000 number was approved in case the actual renovations are more than the estimate town leaders were given, Councilmember Pamela Hadley said.

This agreement only sets aside money for renovations of the back building on the property, though the main building also needs renovations because it is not up to code. The back building must be completed before renovations start on the main building so firefighters have a place to stay while on duty. Council has yet to receive an estimate on the second phase of the project. The fire department must make a formal request to the town for the main building work before discussions start on an agreement.

The Providence Fire Department will present invoices for the work on the rear building and the town will write a check directly to the Providence VFD. The town will not be responsible for paying vendors directly.

After work is complete on both facilities, the property and building – currently owned by Providence VFD  – will become a town asset and be leased back to the fire department.

“Normally you just give the fire department (money) and they renovate the building and they still own it.  What we are doing is saying the taxpayers are going to own that building,” Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Barry said.  “… Then we are going to rent the building back on a long-term lease to (the fire department).”

Weddington officials budgeted $50,000 in the 2012-13 budget for the fire department’s capital needs. All new expenditures for the project do not have to be worked out prior to the approval of the new budget, which must be completed by July 1.  Weddington has given the fire department $51,559 so far for upgrades to the sprinklers and water main systems and $5,300 for the tap-on fee, which comes from Union County Public Works for use of county water.

All payments made so far to the fire department are part of the $220,000, and both items already paid for will not have to be done again when renovating the main building.

“Basically this (roughly) $55,000 of the $197,000 will not have to be spent on the front building,” Hadley said.

Council will hold a public hearing for any interested residents to answer all questions and listen to concerns before signing an agreement for the renovations to the main building.  Town leaders will set a date for the meeting after receiving the estimate from the Providence VFD.

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