Monday, June 24, 2024

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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New Graham fire (sub)station on hold


Sometimes significant changes of policy or planning just slip out during government meetings.
Such may have been the case last Thursday when Graham city manager Megan Garner responded to a question from mayor Jennifer Talley by saying that construction of a second Graham fire station would “probably be put on pause,” adding “until construction costs stabilize.”

The previous configuration of Graham’s city council (with only two of its current five members) authorized the purchase of three adjacent lots, totally about an acre-and-a-half acre of land between Moore Street and Rogers Road, for a new fire station; it would be the city’s second station.

The council voted last May 3-2 to buy the property for the seller’s asking price of $225,000. An appraisal done for the city put the value of the property at $146,000.

The two remaining members of the council are the two (Talley and mayor pro tem Ricky Hall) who were in the minority last spring, opposing the purchase.

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Talley also said at the time the site chosen would result in the station being “hemmed in all around” on Moore Street.

But it wasn’t the site, or the cost of the land, that drew fire this week.

It was the estimated cost of $8 million for construction of a 14,000-square-foot building.
And it was what Talley considered a change in terminology from a substation to a full-fledged station that drew her ire.

Talley said she’d noticed that the new status as a full-fledged station “had been changed on a staff level.”

It was not immediately clear from the cryptic comments at the Thursday night meeting how much larger the new “station” would be, versus the “substation” that Talley said had been envisioned and authorized by the previous council.

Fire chief Tommy Cole told the council last year that operational expenses to staff two new substations that he had recommended at the time would require the addition of 18 new firefighters, at $62,000 each (for a total of over $1.1 million in annual operating costs).


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