Committee Cautions on $100K Grant

Retention Ponds Add $23,500 to Fire Station Costs

The new Ridgeway fire station and the retention pond that slipped by County Council during the planning stages. The pond, and its counterpart at the Jenkinsville station, will be filled in and grassed over as a catch basin. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

The new Ridgeway fire station and the retention pond that slipped by County Council during the planning stages. The pond, and its counterpart at the Jenkinsville station, will be filled in and grassed over as a catch basin. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

WINNSBORO – During an Administrative and Finance Committee meeting Monday afternoon, the committee, led by Councilman Marion Robinson (District 5), balked at recommending Council apply for a $100,000 grant for the assessment of unnamed brownfield sites in the County – properties that are contaminated, vacant and not currently productive.

“Through assessment, we can see if there’s a way we can make them productive. If we do find a way, then we can go back and apply for another $50,000 grant to remediate the site and get it back to a productive state,” County Administrator Jason Taylor told the Committee.

While the grant comes with no match requirement and, according to Taylor, would not affect the County financially, Robinson said he wasn’t in favor of applying for the grant because of the potential for additional cost to the County.

“First (the grant) states you have to have a specific project and we don’t have one,” Robinson said. “It’s open ended, and I find it hard to believe the federal government will give us $150,000 to go assess something, and we say, ‘OK, that’s good . . .’ and then we don’t have the money to go do something with the (assessed property).

“What brought this about?” Robinson asked.

“Steven Gaither, our Grants Manager, found this and thought it might be a good thing,” Taylor said.

“We have a couple of sites – a plastics site and the Mack Truck site that are brownfield sites that we could use the grant money for,” Deputy County Administrator Davis Anderson added.

“Yes, but we would have to have a special project? And I don’t see one mentioned here,” Robinson said. “I would like to know a little more about this before I vote on it.”

Committee members Robinson, Chairwoman Carolyn Robinson (District 2) and Mary Lynn Kinley (District 6) voted to send it back for further study.

The Committee did move forward with another item concerning the repair of inappropriately placed retention ponds proposed at the fire stations being constructed in Jenkinsville and Ridgeway as well as the recreation center in Jenkinsville.

Taylor explained that the engineering designs for each of the three new construction locations had situated the retention ponds directly in front of the buildings.

“These are unsightly, unsafe and difficult to maintain,” Taylor told the Committee.

During a discussion at last month’s Committee meeting, Taylor said the ponds were not in the drawings, but were in the text. The misstep had not been noticed when the plans were originally approved two years ago.

Taylor also suggested that there are several other things about the three projects that Council might not be happy with.

“There’s no (outdoor) lighting on any of these sites,” Taylor said. “Considering safety and potential vandalism, we probably need to go back and consider lighting these sites. And at the Jenkinsville site, we have two buildings – the fire station and the rec center – and there is no connectivity between them. There’s a hill between them, and I think people will walk back and over it causing the grass not to grow and then erosion. So we may need to look at some type of stairs between the two buildings.

“There is also no water at the recreation sites, no drinking fountains for the children,” Taylor said. “Some of these issues, you’re going to pay now or pay later. I can bring these issues back later to another meeting if you would like.”

As for the retention pond issue, Taylor said he had met with the contractor and the solution is to place a drainage pipe in the catch basin and cover it with grass at a total cost of $23,500 for all three locations. He said there were no similar problems with the retention pond at the Mitford recreation center.

Committee members voted unanimously to accept the proposed solution and the $23,500 cost and asked that Council add the item to that evening’s Council agenda for a vote since the construction at all three locations was already in progress. Council did add the item to their agenda later that evening and it passed unanimously.

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