After two years of planning, construction of the $2.7 million Central Fire Station project is near-ing reality, Mayor Bill Cypert told Cabot City Council members during its Jan. 2 meeting.

Cypert said no action was needed at the meeting; the information was to make council members aware that, “We are getting final details for cost and financing for further Council action.”

Aldermen Kevin Davis, Damon Bivens, Doug Warner, Rick Prentice, Ann Gilliam, Ed Long and Ron Waymack attended the meeting.

Cypert’s presentation was not without challenge, with Bivens questioning providing a farmers market facility, and that the location does not support revitalizing the downtown area.

The new facility, at the intersection of South Second Street and Richie Road, would replace the current Central Fire Station, built in the 1960s as the Cabot city hall.

The land for the new fire station was bought from Re:New Church and is part of the site formerly used for the Bancroft manufacturing plant.

Cypert said that during planning for the fire station, the project grew from to include a covered outdoor event facility, restroom and lighted walking trail.

According to information from the architect, Clements & Associates, estimated cost of the project, as proposed, is $2,728,654. The project includes a covered outdoor event area, restroom facility and a lighted walking track as well as the fire station facility.

The cost of each portion of the project is: central fire station $2,185,732; farmers market and restroom facility $457,814; walking track and lighting $85,108.

“After the project is formally bid, we will have fairly accurate construction costs,” Cypert said.

Preparation for construction includes a shared parking agreement with Re:New Church, which is currently building an enlarged parking area, Cypert said.

Cypert reported that the cost per square foot, about $200, is lower than that of similar fire stations built at five other cities in Arkansas. Those costs ranged from a low of $230 at Benton to about $290 at Little Rock.

In discussion, Bivens questioned the elements of the project. “I don’t have a problem at all … with the fire department,” Bivens said in discussion. “But what we are sticking on the back side … a farmers market and a walking trail.”

“I’d like the farmers market to stay within our downtown area,” Bivens said. “We have the downtown we can invest in at a much cheaper cost.”

The Farmers Market is operated by Cabot City Beautiful, a non-profit civic service organization, and has been operating at the Re:New Church parking lot for about two years. Prior locations have been on First Street and at the intersection of South Second and Pine streets.

During discussion, Davis remarked that he has understood that although the outdoor event area has been referred to as “Farmers Market,” it would be available for any use. “As far as I am concerned [they] can do what they want.”

Matt Webber, with Cabot City Beautiful, when queried during the meeting about the plans, said while the group wants to build its own permanent location, “When we were asked if [outside event center] would be something we would be interested in, we jumped at the opportunity to have a cover over our heads … you build it, we will use it.” But it is understood the area would be managed by Parks and Recreation and open to any user, he added.

Long said in early stages of planning, the area was called the outdoor event center, but it “morphed” into being called the farmers market.

The Cabot City Beautiful operates its farmers market from April to October, on Saturday mornings.

Cypert said the project would be open at the Jan. 22 City Council meeting for further discussion of funding, and suggested a special meeting on Jan. 29 to finalize funding. Delaying too long could lose the current favorable interest rates, he warned.

In other committee business, Long announced that a contract for renovation of the Senior Citizen Center kitchen should be ready by the next Council meeting, Jan. 22. The winning bid for the job was by A+ Builders at $154,000; other bids ranged from $185,000 by C&P Construction to $255,977 by Wagner General Contractors.

The committee approved for council action the nomination of Chad Young to the Cabot Planning Commission. Young would complete the term of Darryl Tullos, who resigned due to moving out-side Cabot.

According to Young’s biography he is a principal and vice president at WD&D Architects and is a past member Jacksonville Planning Commission. Young is now a resident of Cabot.