County OKs additional $200K for Lake Wateree fire station

WINNSBORO – With the construction of a proposed fire station on River Road, parts of Lake Wateree that have not been covered by fire service in the past will now be covered, according to Councilman Jimmy Ray Douglas, who represents the area and negotiated the county’s purchase of the 2.4 acre property from the Lake Wateree Presbyterian Church.

The station, which was originally proposed by Douglas in 2007, will be built on River Road between the church and the recycling center. When completed, the fire station should appreciably lower insurance rates for the Lake Wateree homes it serves, according to Fairfield County Administrator Jason Taylor.

Construction, however, is going to cost $200,000 more than the $175,000 originally allocated for the project, Fairfield County Fire Chief Jason Pope told Council last week during the Nov. 9 meeting.

“As we got started with the project, we quickly realized that $175,000 was not going to be enough. If we could have kept the [developed] site under one acre, it would have cost a lot less money on the engineering fees, on environmental studies and the drainage plans,” Pope said.

He said the fire station will have four bays that would include space for a fire truck, a tanker, the Sheriff’s boat and an EMS vehicle. The facility will also include two restrooms, two showers, a kitchen and living quarters to accommodate full time fire fighters that he hopes will eventually man the facility.

“When Mr. Pope came to me about this, we tried to keep it at $175,000, and do the bare minimum,” Taylor said. “But our thoughts were that if we did that, nobody would be happy with the results. At $175,000, it wouldn’t be as functional as what we need nor what I think council will be proudest of. We got beat up when some of these recreation centers were built,” he said. “Nobody was happy with half-court basketball.”

Those courts were initiated by the Hinely administration as part of the 2013 $24 million bond.

“I recommend that we do something better than the bare bones,” Taylor said. “I think, in the end, we would be going back to spend money just like we did on the recreation centers. I don’t want this to end up in that same situation. If you want to stick to the $175,000 we can do that, but you won’t be happy with the product, and we will end up, again, spending money on the tail end to fix it right,” he said.

“We’re trying to move in a lot of ways in the same direction as other fire stations in the county, with living quarters like the ones in Lebanon Fire Station,” Taylor said. “We’re trying to schedule it on a yearly basis to take our fire stations to the next level so we can provide good fire service and also better accommodate our volunteer fire department and, eventually, a paid fire staff.”

Councilman Douglas Pauley agreed.

“Fire service is a top priority in the county and we need to do our best,” he said.

Council voted 7 – 0 to approve the additional $200,000, which will come from the special projects fund. The county is in the process of putting out bids, and Pope said he hopes the facility will be operational by the summer.