City seeks “best and final use” of former armory building

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The future of the former National Guard Armory building in Lewisburg dominated the discussion at Monday’s City Council work session.

The state approached the city several months ago, after it had determined that the building was surplus to the state’s needs, with an offer to turn over the property at the intersection of Fayetteville Highway and Ellington Parkway to the city.

The 9,200 square foot building and approximately one acre lot, valued by the state at $2.5 million, was officially transferred to the city within the last two weeks.

The property does revert to the state if the city no longer has a use for the site.

Eric Bischoff and Brandon Kritzman from the city’s engineering consultant, OHM Partners, reported to councilmen the state of the existing building.

Bischoff said that structurally the building and roof was in good shape but that internal systems, plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling, would need to be completely redone.

Due to broken windows, birds have taken up residence in the building while it has been empty, resulting in both dead birds and bird droppings that need to be cleaned from the building before any other work can take place.

Bischoff estimated the environmental cleanup, including some asbestos floor tile as well, would cost between $50,000 and $75,000, but would be required before any other action could be taken on the building.

The city had originally planned to renovate enough of the building so that it could be used for a temporary home for the Lewisburg Fire Department.

The main fire hall in Lewisburg has been in need of renovation and repair for some time.

“We are living on borrowed time” with the 60-year-old building, said Dunn, citing inadequate electrical supply and sewer lines in such bad shape that at times sewage backs up into the kitchen area of the fire hall.

“Before we can move forward with the renovation of the main fire hall, we have to come up with temporary accommodation for the fire department,” said City Manager Randall Dunn.

The armory building possesses the large bay doors and the floor space required to house the city’s fire trucks.

The department will need to relocate for the estimated eight months that are needed for renovations to the main fire hall.

Bischoff advised the council against partial repairs to the building before a “best and final use” of the building was determined.

“That’s just not a wise use of money,” he said.

The city’s costs would be higher in the long run trying to do a little bit of work at a time without an ultimate goal for the building in sight.

As an alternative, councilmen discussed the possibility of temporary housing units on the site for the fire personnel while the trucks are stored in the building.

Ultimately, it was decided that the city and the fire department will put together a plan for this option to present to the councilmen at their November work session.

Planning and public meetings to determine the ultimate use of the building will also need to be discussed in the future, as well.

Larry McKnight updated the council on the transportation plan recently started for county veterans needing transportation to Veterans Administration medical facilities in Nashville, Murfreesboro, or Columbia.

McKnight asked the city to fund an agreement with the South Central Area Transportation System, where the city would cover the cost of the trip for medical care.

Previously, the local Veterans Services office had handled transportation, which forced them to close the office at the Hardison Annex, impacting service to other county veterans.

SCATS made 29 trips for veterans in August, the first month of the service, and 23 during September. Scats also allows a caregiver to ride with the veterans to their appointment at no additional charge.

The council will host a reception for Marshall County veterans of World War II at 5:15 p.m. prior to the council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The council will honor those veterans with a resolution at the 6 p.m. meeting. See today’s edition for an article on the city’s effort to identify living vets from the “Greatest Generation” in the county.