Farmville hoping to get over $7 million to construct much-needed fire station

The Town of Farmville desperately needs to own its fire station. It is crucial that the bays will be tall enough to accommodate the height of the newest fire trucks. If we ever want to bring a hotel to Farmville, our fire department will need a truck capable of reaching the upper windows with an appropriate ladder. Our fire fighters have a long history of getting to calls quickly and of performing superbly under extreme pressure. Whatever we can do reasonably to help them continue to handle emergencies and improve safety, I believe we should.

Since at least 2016 and probably well before, several of our town officials have been talking about the pressing need for the new fire station, and have been planning for it. On June 26, 2019 The Farmville Enterprise reported. “Last month, the Board [of Commissioners] : Unanimously approved a resolution authorizing an exchange of property between the town and PALCO [Investments LLC] and Thomas Frank Styers for the future Farmville fire station. The assembled land is owned by PALCO, which is operated by Lewis and Styers. PALCO Investments acquired the acreage to the rear of Red’s TV property from the Farmville Country Club to complete the land to be transferred to the town. The town will receive the property at no cost and in addition will receive $75,000 in cash from the seller. The town will obtain the 2.5 acres of land located at the corner of May Boulevard and Horne Avenue, in exchange for the current fire station, located at 3713 N. Main St.” As I understand it, the town received $75K from Lewis but that money was intended to go back to Lewis as “rent” for the fire station for two years while the new one was being built. The original plan was for the construction of the new fire station to be completed in 2021.

Since at least June 2019, some town officials have been overseeing design ideas  and financial planning for the station to sit near where Red’s TV once was. One recent piece of very good news is that Farmville received over $1.4 million in 2022 from the American Rescue Plan Act and has spent none of it. The federal government has given small municipalities extra leeway in how the funds may be used. With proper planning, this money will be a huge help to Farmville’s budget.

Farmville commissioners voted unanimously in June 2019 to take out a $5 million loan for the construction of the $5.3 million library (not including technology or furnishings). This was at the same time they traded the Main Street fire station. Funding for the fire station then ended up getting put off in fiscal years 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23.

As of February 2023, the plan is for Farmville to build a 20,000 square foot fire station for approximately $8.25 million. State Senator Kandie Smith filed a bill on February 13 of 2023 for North Carolina to give Farmville a $7 million grant to help build this. It is in the early stages and no vote has been taken. Tomorrow night at 6:00 Mayor Moore and Town Manager Hodgkins plan to address the Pitt County Board of Commissioners to request help with funding.

There is no question that Farmville desperately needs a new fire station. One would hope that our elected officials have been faithfully setting aside money for this over the past four years. If there indeed have been efforts to intimidate or threaten any who have their fingers on Pitt County or State purse strings or who have any influence in those arenas, the negative approaches must stop. Farmville is a town made up of some of the best people and the most wonderful first responders. Their fire station should not be jeopardized by ugly words or actions. Please think of what is best for this town. Other financial requests to the county or the state by first responders are important as well. We should look at this as a team effort.

The most recently built local fire station I could find was the $3.4 million one called Eastern Pines Fire-Rescue. Here is a link to the article from May 2022 on its Open House.

Below is a Daily Reflector article describing the increase in calls to the Farmville Fire Department and the plan to ask for financial help from Pitt County.

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