New Albany officials are taking incremental steps toward relocating and building a new $2.2 million firehouse on West Daisy Lane — not far from a planned aquatic center.
Although some details are still being worked out, the city and Kroger Co. have reached a tentative deal for the grocery company to pay $1.5 million for the city’s 21-year-old firehouse and adjoining property on Green Valley Road, adjacent to its New Albany Plaza store.
That would allow Kroger to proceed with a long-planned expansion. The city’s Redevelopment Commission, in turn, is assembling plans to relocate the firehouse on part of a 9.1-acre tract that includes the former Camille Wright pool property, said David Duggins, the city’s director of economic development.
Construction on the new facility could begin in six months.
On Tuesday, the commission is expected to continue its discussions on the firehouse relocation and to review nearly $11,000 in claims for schematic designs and survey work.
Next, the city plan commission and the board of zoning appeals will be asked to approve the proposal at June meetings, Duggins said.
New Albany officials had agreed to buy three West Daisy houses to clear property for the aquatic center and then were approached about buying three other homes by neighborhing property owners.
“They said ‘We do not want to be next to the aquatic center.’ We’ve been trying to be good neighbors,” Duggins said.
The commission voted during a special meeting April 29 to ratify the purchase of three properties — at 202, 206 and 210 West Daisy Lane — for the future firehouse. It had previously OK’d Duggins’ request to proceed with buying homes at 222, 220 and 212 West Daisy for the pool project.
Because they’re still settling on the firehouse plan, Duggins said that he has asked the commission to borrow money for preliminary design and survey costs from the city’s State Street Tax Increment Finance fund.
The commission had approved $64,968 last month for initial design and site survey work. The money could either be repaid from the bond issue or from proceeds from the old firehouse sale, Duggins said.
While the city will pay $700,000 more than Kroger’s price on the relocated fire station, the fire department asked that they include two improvements — dormitory-style sleeping quarters and a “drying tower” thatis used to hang canvas fire hoses for proper drying.
The sleeping area is a large open room, and the current house has no tower to handle the drying, Duggins said.
They have estimated that the enlarged Kroger would generate more than $75,000 in additional TIF revenues and about 25,000 in economic-development income taxes, or EDIT funds, annually, which should help repay the extra money the city will spend on the new firehouse, Duggins said.
Councilman Dan Coffey, a member of the redevelopment commission, did not attend last month’s special meeting. But he said Monday that he supports the idea of keeping a firehouse in the vicinity.
He also favors conducting a study to determine the best locations for all New Albany firehouses at a time when two others — at Community Park and in the Twin Oaks area — are in need of repair. They should take a big-picture look at the needs before making a large investment in a relocation, Coffey said.