Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Continuing Saga Of Fire Station No. 6

This article appeared in the Banner-Herald a couple of Fridays back about the still uncertain future of Fire Station No. 6. The roof of the station was damaged by the snowstorm of 01 March and it has been out of commission since then, with its personnel and equipment having been reassigned to other stations. The Unified Government has been offered the sum of $700,000 by its insurance company to repair the damage but, instead of proceeding with the needed repairs so as to get the station up and running as soon as possible, it is deferring in hopes of securing an “economic stimulus grant” from the Obama Administration to supplement the insurance settlement and build an entirely new “suburban” style station with a price tag in the millions of dollars.

The Unified Government has the responsibility of local fire protection, but seems reluctant to provide such protection unless, of course, someone else picks up the tab. And if past experience is any guide, a new Fire Station No. 6 will be a much more elaborate and expensive proposition than is really necessary. Rather than wait the three more months required to – hopefully – secure stimulus money (not to mention the lengthy period required to construct any new station), I say make the needed repairs to the existing structure and get it back on line as soon as possible.

Fire Station No. 6 has already been closed for more than three months and the process of securing grant money will take another three months. Even the quicker option of repairing the roof would take a while; completely rebuilding the station could take years. For how long must Fire Station No. 6 be inoperative until its absence affects the insurance ratings for the homes, businesses, and industries in that part of the county? Has anyone in the Unified Government considered this?

Insofar as Mr. Lowry’s claim that no one has complained is concerned, I seriously doubt that most of the folks in District 1 realize that the station has been vacant for months. The station is not on a residential street and, unless they drive by and notice its closure, how are they to know? It is not like the Unified Government ever issued any kind of public statement noting that the station would be closed indefinitely. Besides which, I complained about the station’s closing in March, April, and May. I know that some members of the Unified Government read this blog, as do some of the folks at the Clarke County School District, Flagpole, as well as the editors and reporters at the Banner-Herald (where else do you think they get their figures on education spending?).

Doesn’t this prove that the current practice of throwing bailout and stimulus dollars at this or that is, in fact, nothing more than financial pandering. Constructing a new fire station will certainly employ some folks – for a short while, that is – but will not constitute anything remotely resembling long term economic growth. It is simply the federal government spending more money that it (meaning we) does not have on something the will not result in meaningful stimulus of the economy – even if some of the locals desire it.

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Anonymous said...

The new stations are more energy efficient, safer for the firefighters, and have lower maintenance costs. While you may find the delay annoying, it will certainly lower the costs to taxpayers.

james said...

So how many years will it take to reach the break even point, meaning that point at which the supposed long term savings will equal the up front amount required to construct the new station?

I'm not (just) being argumentative; it is a legitimate public policy question that should be weighed in making any such decision.

Anonymous said...

If they get the building paid for via insurance and stimulus funds, the savings would almost certainly show up in the first year...though you'd have to account for the station being closed for a year or more.
This station and one other are the oldest in ACC. They have been damaged in prior storms (and repaired and strengthened). I believe they were damaged 2 or 3 times in their lifetime. It seems like a logical move not to repair the same thing again and again if it is just going to break again in a few years.

Winfield J. Abbe said...

The meaningless comments by "anonymous" above are likely made by Mr. Reddish or one of the cowardly commissioners themselves.
You are so polite to these people Mr. Garland; they do not deserve politeness and continued indulgence. Either this fire station is necessary for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Athens Clarke County, Georgia or it is not necessary. If it is necessary this negligent and corrupt government is clearly wrong in its failure to immediately repair it and place it immediately into operation for the protection of the citizens whose forced taxation pays for its operations. This government must be forced to place it into operation immediately by its supervisor, the state of Georgia or by the good for nothing Attorney General of Georgia or the United States Attorney forcing this criminal government to comply with its dictum of "health, safety and welfare" which is the only authority provided to it for its existence. If this station is not necessary for the "health, safety and welfare" of the citizens, then the government has been lying to its citizens about its necessity and must be prosecuted by either the Georgia Attorney General or the U.S. Attorney for lying and corruptly and falsely claiming it was necessary all these years. Notice also how silent the new high paid Fire Chief is about all this as he basks with his fancy salary in his newly found retirement here in Athens paid for by forced taxation of us lowly taxpayers. Have you asked him about all this Mr. Garland? In a few days we will likely observe another patent violation of the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Athens during the fourth of July entertainment as the roads in and around Oglethorpe and Hawthorne become so jammed with traffic that no emergency vehicle could get to an emergency if it had to. Do you think we will observe the demonstration of any intelligence and courage and "leadership" from our new high paid fire chief in this blatant risk of the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of AThens again as they have every year for years in the past? I doubt it. After all, if he spoke up to the criminals running the Athens government he might lose that high paid job that provides him some nice spending money in his retirement. How about it Mr. Fire Chief, how about requesting the local police department to keep one lane open along Oglethorpe AVe at all times of the day or night just like you do for malls where those signs "keep clear, fire lane" prevent parking there while the hypocrites in the AThens Government allow cars to block access of emergency vehicles 24 hours a day in front of all those old fire traps downtown. The corrupt and criminal and hypocritical government of Athens should have its charter immedidately revoked by the State of Georgia and be taken over by a committee appointed by the Georgia Legislature. I also urge you to write a letter to the Insurance Services Office in Atlanta demanding they lower the fire rating of AThens due to this unsafe failure to place this fire station back into operation and the risk to life and property of the unsafe practice of allowing parking in front of the many fire traps downtown while hypocritically forcing other property owners and businesses elsewhere to keep areas clear around buildings at their expense, while subsidizing the friends and cronies of the government cronies downtown.

Anonymous said...

I am anonymous to protect my job... but I am not Reddish or a commish.

Just because I work for the government doesn't mean I don't know what time it is. I read Abbe's rants all over the Athens blogs. None of them make much sense, and they are all too long winded. Deal in facts, not conspiracy and maybe someone would start paying attention.