RW to convert fire station

RIDGEWAY- While discussing capital improvements during the Town’s second reading of the budget for the 2017-18 FY, Councilman Heath Cookendorfer rolled out his proposal for the town’s former station. He requested that $25,000 be earmarked to help secure an economic development grant to transition the old fire station into three separate retail spaces.

“We’re not using it if we cannot find the right grant or whatever,” Cookendorfer said. “But money that would help us to get a grant to turn three of those stalls into actual businesses where we would be selling water, we’ll be getting rent and we’ll be getting business license (fees). Three locations that can generate revenue for the town.”

Councilwoman Angela Harrison and Councilman Donald Prioleau, however, countered with their own plans, along with assistance from Fairfield County, for the space. Their proposal would include tearing down and replacing the current library.

“We’re talking about…tearing that thing [current library] down and [replacing it with] a depot with an anchor tower to match Olde Town [Hall Restaurant’s] tower,” Harrison said. “And, again, the police department, a library, indoor/outdoor bathrooms, retail space and a platform for Pig on the Ridge, or events and things like that. That firestation is cement block, it doesn’t match the character of our downtown I mean it totally is an eyesore along with our old police station.”

“It sounded very promising,” Prioleau said.

Harrison said it was not the role of the town to be property managers, but Cookendorfer countered that the town is purchasing the Cotton Yard Property and already operating businesses.

“And, technically, the town shouldn’t be property managers anyway, that’s not the purpose of the town to buy and sell property or be property managers,” Harrison said.

“Then we shouldn’t be buying the Cotton Yard. We shouldn’t be operating businesses,” Cookendorfer said. “We should be in the business of building revenues.”

Harrison said Fairfield County is currently assisting her and Prioleau in the search for grants to possibly help fund the proposal. Since the designs would add a platform for Pig on the Ridge, and other festivals, Pig on the Ridge would assist in funding.

“It’ll be an L-shaped building with retail space, library, police station and a platform for Pig on the Ridge or things like that,” Harrison said. “So Pig on the Ridge is willing to pay money for it, and the county’s looking into getting grants for it.”

The designer’s plans will be presented as soon as they are completed and the designer’s fees will be covered in the Fairfield County budget, but Fairfield County cannot take any action until their new budget year begins in July.

Cookendorfer agreed to table his proposal until Council gets an opportunity to review Harrison’s and Prioleau’s designs. “I would like to see a drawing,” Cookendorfer said.