Friday, July 23, 2010

Fire Station No.6 Further Update

For those interested, I received the latest in a series of correspondence concerning Fire Station No. 6 from District 8 Commissioner Andy Herod last Thursday, 15 July (the delay in posting it is my fault, not his).

Commissioner Herod's questions of staff received this response: 

"The Unified Government did apply for stimulus funding (ARRA Grant), to be used in combination with funds to be received from the insurance company, to rebuild Fire Station #6 to the same design used for our newer suburban fire stations (e.g. F.S. #9 - Danielsville Road). If the stimulus monies had been received, we would have used the building plans previously developed for F.S.# 9 to solicit bids and the project would have been quickly constructed to this somewhat higher standard. Therefore, the project was viewed by staff to be "shovel ready", had we received the grant funds and used the previously developed F.S#9 construction plans.

The ARRA Grant application for the subject project was submitted on July 13, 2009 and by written correspondence dated May 13, 2010 the Unified Government was notified that our grant request had not been approved. To our knowledge, there is no appeals process and the staff level decision was made to move forward with reconstruction of the facility using the insurance funds. Staff has no specific insight into why our ARRA Grant application was not approved. These grants are highly competitive and I suspect go through a comparative analysis where projects are both evaluated relative to specific criteria and to one another. Given that there were likely thousands of applications, only the federal agency could respond to the question of why our application was not approved. As is indicated by the above comments, reconstruction of the project was delayed (approximately 10 months) until staff knew the result of the ARRA Grant application.

Once the May 13, 2010 notice was received, staff moved quickly in cooperation with the insurance company to finalize the plans for reconstruction of building (the plans were not developed prior to the May 13 notice since this would have been an unnecessary expenditure had the grant been received and the F.S.#9 plans been used), obtain permits and to begin construction. The fact that the ARRA grant notice was received in mid-May and that construction is already underway with a scheduled completion date of late fall clearly demonstrates that the permitting process has not delayed the project. Further, I suggest that private sector projects likewise move quickly through the review and approval process if complete appropriately designed plans and associated documents are submitted in a timely manner."

I truly appreciate Andy poking around a bit on my behalf (pointedly, no one else has). I must note, however, that in my capacity as a two-time candidate for the Commission and as a frequent commentator on local issues, I have been regaled often and at great length by business owners whose experiences with the Unified Government’s zoning and planning bureaucracy have left quite a bit to be desired.

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