Outdoor event facility, restroom and lighted walking trail are on the chopping block as the Cabot City Council looks to change the plans for the new $2.7 million Central Fire Station.
Members of the Personnel and Budget, Police and Fire, and Public Works committees voted Monday, at the City Council agenda meeting, to modify the plans for the fire station for approval at the Feb. 19.
Aldermen Kevin Davis, Damon Bivens, Doug Warner, Norma Naquin, Rick Prentice, Ann Gilliam, Ed Long and Ron Waymack attended the meeting.
Prentice, chairman of the Police and Fire Committee, said the plans for the new fire station were to be the subject of a special meeting, “But I think we’ll talk about this fire station tonight.”
Under consideration is removing the outdoor facilities from the plans, Prentice said.
“I want some kind of conclusion tonight so we can pass this on to the full city council,” he said.
Final decision for the plans would be made by the City Council at the Feb. 19 meeting.
According to information from the architect, Clements & Associates, estimated cost of each portion of the proposed project is: central fire station $2,185,732; outdoor event and restroom facility $457,814; walking track and lighting $85,108.
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.
Bivens said he supported the Fire Station, “That needs to be built, absolutely.”
Naquin said she supported the Fire Station alone, no other facilities, “No courts, no walking trail, nothing.” Later in discussion, she remarked that her misgivings about the recreational facilities, is that they would likely detract from the Richie Road City Park just a short distance from the Fire Station site.
Long noted that the new Fire Station, being in his ward, “… is absolutely essential … my stand … is that I will vote with the majority.”
During discussion, Mayor Bill Cypert, who presented the plans for the Fire Station during the Jan. 2 agenda meeting, said the plans reflected calls for additional neighborhood parks and recreation facilities. With more than 700 responses to the “Imagine Cabot” survey, 54 percent had placed “neighborhood small parks” as a “high” priority; 59 percent wanted more walking trails with optional lighting, he said.
The Imagine Cabot results paralleled those of Imagine Central Arkansas, a Metroplan program, in improving community and economic development, Cypert said.
Cabot is a member of Metroplan, the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for central Arkansas.
Those results, “Clearly indicated that places connected to play are a high priority in central Arkansas,” Cypert said.
Regardless of what the City Council chooses, a decision needs to be made while bond interest rates remain favorable, Cypert warned.
Also in discussion, it was determined that the city code requirement for a sidewalk was not affected by the decision to remove the walking trail.
In public comment, it was pointed out that the plans do not include warning devices for fire trucks leaving the station.
Cypert said he supported the suggestion and would pursue it. But approval of signals or devices on state highways must be made by Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department officials, and, if approved, the cost would fall to the city. An overhead traffic signal could cost up to $80,000, or it could be the cost of a flashing sign, he said.
Fire Chief Phil Robinson said such signal would be a benefit for the fire department, but is not a necessity. The apron of the planned station is of sufficient length to let the warning lights of the trucks warn drivers.
In later remarks, Robinson said he believes that in the past 10 years, there have been only minor incidents involving fire equipment exiting to South Pine Street from the current Central Fire Station.
After discussion, committee members voted to place a motion to limit the plans to the Central Fire Station, alone, plus a 7 percent contingency to cover increases.