Public hearing for fire station grant today

Published 1:49 am Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NATCHEZ — Natchez residents looking to share their opinions about the possibility of the city applying for a grant to renovate a fire station can do so today at a public hearing.

The hearing — set for 4:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on Pearl Street — is required for the city to be able to submit an application for a Community Development Block Grant to renovate the city fire station on Vaughn Drive in north Natchez.

Email newsletter signup

The public comments made at today’s hearings will be included with the city’s grant application.

Community Development Director James Johnston recently presented the project to the Natchez Board of Aldermen, with a total cost of approximately $500,000, and the city putting up a match of approximately half that amount and $20,000 for in-kind services. The rest would be funded by the grant.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen still needs to finalize exactly how much funding it wants to commit for the match, Johnston said.

The deadline to submit the application is May 8.

Aldermen have expressed concerns about committing funds to the project when the funds may be needed elsewhere. City officials sought funding assistance for the match from the Adams County Board of Supervisors since the city provides fire protection for the county. The supervisors, however, said the county was committed to another project seeking funding from the same grant source and assisting the city was unlikely.

The Vaughn Drive fire station was constructed in 1977.

The building and bathroom facilities do not comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and the station has fire code violations, water intrusion problems and other issues.

Other repairs would also include painting the entire building and adding a 950-square-foot addition that will mainly serve as a sleeping area and restroom.

Rotting louvers and trim on the building have allowed birds to nest in the attic, creating health issues for firefighters because of bird droppings.

Firefighters have also reported the fire station has a rodent problem.

The match money for the fire station project would likely need to be budgeted for the city in 2018, if the grant is awarded. The funding announcement will likely be made in October or November.