Armory acquisition moves ahead

Friday, August 11, 2017
The Lewisburg City Council and Mayor Jim Bingham honored the recently crowned Miss Marshall County Caroline McCormick at their monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Tribune photo by Scott Pearson

The Lewisburg City Council moved forward with the acquisition of the old National Guard armory site from the state of Tennessee at their monthly meeting on Tuesday.

Councilmen, on what was otherwise a light agenda, approved $3,500 to be spent from the city’s fund balance to cover the costs of documents and fees related to the transaction.

The state had approached the city several months ago about turning over the building and lot to the city after they determined the building surplus after sitting unused for nearly 15 years since the new armory building was constructed.

The transaction turning over the 10,000-square-foot building to the city should be completed within the next 30 days, according to Lewisburg City Manager Randall Dunn.

While the city will not pay for the building, there will be renovation costs involved.

Since the building has been abandoned, birds have roosted inside, requiring cleanup before further rehabilitation can take place. The plumbing and electrical systems will also need to be replaced.

The council chose, when the idea was first raised, to break the full renovation of the structure into a series of phases needed to lessen budget impacts.

The cost to the city will be far below that of construction of a comparable building.

Dunn said that the state values the property between $2 million and $2.5 million.

Dunn also expects that a clause will be included in the agreement that requires the building to be used as a public building or would otherwise revert back to state control.

While the city is still considering long-term uses for the building, with its large bay doors and open plan, it will be able to serve as a temporary home for the Lewisburg Fire Department.

The main fire hall requires renovations to the plumbing and electrical systems as well as the living quarters, and the department will be forced to relocate for several months potentially while the work is underway.

The department had been exploring leasing space in town for a temporary home while renovations were under way, when the state stepped forward with their offer.

Councilmen chose to renovate the fire hall as opposed to constructing a new facility out of concern for the cost.

During director reports, Lewisburg Fire Chief Larry Williams briefed the council on the meeting, earlier in the day, of the Marshall County Emergency Planning Committee.

Williams said that his department had finished 100 percent of its emergency pre-planning on every commercial building in the city.

Mayor Jim Bingham asked Williams to discuss the question of tornado sirens for the city and county that had been raised at the meeting.

The cost and reliability of sirens made installing such a warning system made it impractical, said Williams.

Code Red is a system currently is use in the county, which will call all registered telephones with warnings during severe weather or other emergencies.

Landline telephones are automatically in the system, but cell phones do need to be registered in the system.

A reverse 911 system can also be used to call residents in specific areas under threat.

Williams said that Code Red costs the county roughly $22,000 per year, an amount that wouldn’t touch the yearly maintenance on one siren tower.

City Treasurer Donna Park updated the council on sales tax collections. Local sales tax numbers were up 8.9 percent so far compared to last year, and state sales tax collections showed a 2.5 percent increase.

Sales of fuel at the Ellington Airport were also strong, Park said. Purchases of fuel were up 68 percent, but sales of aviation fuel at the airport were up 190 percent.