County lost fire station agreement

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt January 31, 2014
FireStation

This fire station in Avondale Estates, located on Clarendon Avenue, will be rebuilt. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

Avondale Estates is getting a new fire station, a project the city’s mayor says is long overdue.

DeKalb County Commissioners on Jan. 28 unanimously voted to award the contract to rebuild the station on Clarendon Avenue. The contract approval was deferred on Jan. 14, because Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton had questions.

One of the questions:   What are the terms of intergovernmental agreement with City of Avondale Estates for providing fire services?

According to a memo distributed to the commissioners during the Jan. 28 commission meeting, DeKalb County doesn’t know. Deputy Fire Chief Norman Augustin told commissioners that the county is still trying to locate the document.

“I was informed by Chief O’Brien (retired) that there is an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Avondale related to fire service delivery, but I am unable to locate this document in any of our files,” Augustin wrote. “I will work with the law department to obtain a copy of the agreement.”

After the Jan. 28 meeting, where commissioners voted unanimously to award the contract to rebuild the fire station, Sutton said that an intergovernmental agreement is in the works.

“I’ve asked the staff to look at the possibilities and to negotiate with the city of Avondale Estates and I hope that will come to fruition,” Sutton said. “I think it’s only fair for all of the citizens.”

Sutton also said she was concerned Avondale Estates would take over the fire station and not pay the county a “fair market rate” for it. The value of the contract is $1.9 million and the project is being funded with federal money. Avondale Estates Mayor Ed Rieker said the city isn’t interested in buying the station. According to the memo, 80 percent of the fire station’s territory is unincorporated DeKalb County. Here is the full service delivery map.

Avondale ServiceHere  Augustin’s responses to the questions about the fire station:

Q 1: Why can’t we save some of the old fire station façade?

A: We began to address this issue as early as mid-year 2005. Palmer Engineering Company completed a survey and concluded, “The 2000 Standard Building Code, fire stations are considered essential facilities and must meet more stringent seismic requirements than a typical building….the only type of masonry shear wall allowed by code for the basic seismic force resisting system is a special reinforced masonry shear wall. I am confident that the existing wall is not reinforced to comply with the requirements for special reinforced walls. For this reason, I recommend against incorporating the existing 1947 building into an expanded facility.” As a result of this recommendation (including Brown Design Group) it was agreed upon to design the new façade to as much of the same architecture as currently exists.

Q 1.2: I remember going through a yearlong review by State Historic Preservation Commission and DeKalb County Planning Staff David Cullison assisting Facilities Management in this process

A: SHPC performed an extensive survey of the building and grounds, and concluded there was no historical value in the existing facility because of the many modifications that had occurred over the years.

Q 1.3: Also remember City of Avondale Staff involved in this discussion

Q 1.4: Involved in the design discussions from the City of Avondale were Chai Brown, City Manager; Keri Stevens, City Clerk; and Doug Leckband.

Q 1.5: The options were to keep the existing façade and improve or build a new one ….

A: We decided it would be best to incorporate the same style into the new design.

Q 1.6: The driving facts were that this FS is too old and does not meet the current need or code

A: The latest standards related to manpower per engine, personnel safety, and the size of apparatus currently being built, were the driving forces behind the one-story design.

Q 1.7: Also the two storey versus one story FS was critically discussed. The Fire Truck Bay area and sleeping quarters improvements were driving factors in the current design. Chief, you can clarify this item?

Editor’s note: No answer given.

Q 2: Is City of Avondale willing to buy the Fire Station?

Editor’s note: No answer given.

Q 2.1: The concern is that the County is going to spend this money and what if they take over the Facility? The points that needs to clarified are, Is this Fire station going to serve only incorporated Avondale or Unincorporated DeKalb County are also, if so what percentage of the area is Unincorporated?

A: The City of Avondale Estates makes up 19.8 percent of the station 3’s response area. 80.2 percent of this station’s response territory is in unincorporated DeKalb.

Q 2.2: What are the terms of intergovernmental agreement with City of Avondale in providing Fire Services?

A: I was informed by Chief O’Brien (retired) that there is an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Avondale related to fire service delivery but I am unable to locate this document in any of our files. I will work with the law department to obtain a copy of the agreement.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

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