City issues general bonds of $4.1M for new fire stations

By HASKEL BURNS,

Hattiesburg’s upcoming ninth fire station – as well as the rebuild of the tornado-damaged Fire Station No. 2 – is one step closer to completion, as a means of funding has been put in place for the facilities.

During last week’s meeting of Hattiesburg City Council, council members voted 5-0 to issue a general obligation note in an amount not to exceed $4.1 million to provide funds for demolition, construction and furnishing of fire stations, and the purchase of fire apparatus.

“This will be a five-year note in which sealed bank bids will be received through 3 p.m. on November 19,” said Ann Jones, Hattiesburg’s chief administrative officer. “The bank bidding the lowest interest rate will be awarded the note sale/loan.”

A majority of the funding - $3.3 million – will go toward the building of Fire Station 9, which will be constructed at 7450 U.S. 49, just north of Pep’s Point Road. Construction of the new fire station, which will feature three bays and a ladder truck, is expected to cost between $2.5 million and $3 million.

City Attorney Randy Pope is following up on an eminent domain measure to acquire the 1.95-acre parcel of land, which is owned by Saia Motor Freight Line. In September, council members authorized Pope to deposit $87,750 into the court registry in advance of a November trial on the matter.

The remainder of the $4.1 million obligation note will supplement Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for Fire Station No. 2, which will be constructed at the site of the former Big Yank building on Edwards Street. The original Fire Station No. 2, which was located on Arledge Street, was heavily damaged by the January 2017 tornado that rolled through the area.

When completed, the new fire station will feature a two-lane engine bay, a gear locker room, support rooms for 24/7 operations, a full kitchen and dining area, an exercise/training room and a battalion chief’s office and private bedroom. The building will be designed to withstand 120-mile-per-hour winds.

After some initial discussion, officials decided that the Edwards Street site would be more suitable location for a rebuild than the original Arledge street site.

“It’s in a good location,” Council President Carter Carroll said after demolition was approved. “It’s actually closer to William Carey University, and a lot of people that need quicker access. So I think this is going to be a lot better location.

“When (station) No. 2 was built, that was kind of a central area, but then that’s moved down since then. And William Carey has gotten so large, so that area is really going to blossom up around William Carey.”

While the status of FEMA reimbursement for Fire Station No. 2 is still in negotiation, the obligation note will provide for a supplement to be used for construction and furnishing of the new facility.

Sealed proposals for the work will be received at Hattiesburg City Hall, 200 Forrest Street in downtown Hattiesburg.

The principal on the obligation note will be paid annually, and will mature and be payable on the following dates:

• December 3, 2020: $772,254

• December 3, 2021: $795,420

• December 3, 2022: $819,285

• December 3, 2023: $843,863

• December 3, 2024: $869,178

The note will be exempt from federal and state income taxation.