Murray Farm land sought by 911 board

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lewisburg's City Council is scheduled on Tuesday to consider a request for the donation of an acre of the Murray Farm property near the Elks Club for a centralized dispatch center.

"The 911 Board is considering consolidation of the dispatchers, emergency communications for police, fire, medical services and the Emergency Management Agency," City Manager Eddie Fuller said.

"They've talked about for 3-4 years, and it's come to a head, and that raises the question of where it would be built," Fuller said. "They've looked to the city for a permanent site."

The council convenes at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 131 E. Church St., where various personnel issues are to be addressed. They include dispatchers who work for the county and its municipalities in several agencies.

Other personnel issues set for discussion Tuesday include Bob Binkley's resignation as legal counsel to the Industrial Development Board, and the pending retirement of the city manager. Binkley resigned Aug. 18. Fuller's yet to place a specific date on when he will retire.

John Smiley, a top-level leader at the County Roads Superintendent's office, is leading the 911 Board's effort to get a site and a floor plan for a communications center, Fuller said.

Since the development of caller ID and a universal emergency phone number in the 1980s, local governments have been receiving money collected through phone bills so local 911 services can be funded. The 911 boards purchase the equipment and pay for the telephone services.

If the concept developed by the 911 Board here is completed, a road would be built to city specifications from Woodside Avenue to the planned communications center behind the Elks Club Lodge, the city manager explained.

"If we were ever going to do anything with the land," Fuller said, "we'd have a road into the property."

City Councilmen authorized purchase of the old Walking Horse farmland in 2008. Its 48 acres border Rock Creek across from the city park where there's a pedestrian bridge and a stage.

The proposed communications center "would face east and most of it would be underground," Fuller said.

"If the council approves it," he said, "there's been discussion of putting a time limit on when it's done."

Meanwhile, the agenda for the council meeting does not include a mention of Fuller's planned retirement.

"I'll be 62 on Oct. 25," Fuller said, repeating his often-used phrase to give his reason for retiring.

The city manager's retirement is not listed on the agenda as a topic of discussion because "It's been tabled," he said. "Somebody will have to take it off the table."

Fuller on Wednesday said he had not yet composed a letter to the council on his retirement, but has promised to the council that he "will have one by Tuesday" next week.

Fuller's retirement comes as City Hall has been at the epicenter of political and governmental tensions. The council directed the dismissal of the city's industrial developer and voted to dismiss the city attorney in recent months.

Last month, Binkley's resignation might have been seen as an extension of council discussion regarding the expansion of responsibilities for the new city attorney.

And Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart asked Fuller to include on Tuesday night's agenda consideration of discussing economic and community development with county leaders.

City leaders are also scheduled to consider revising the city attorney's job description to include representation of Lewisburg's Industrial Development Board.