Last updated: October 22. 2013 5:36PM - 201 Views
By - eparnell@civitasmedia.com

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NEWBERRY — One of the biggest needs the city fire department has for the future is a new and updated training facility, according to Fire Chief Keith Minick.

Based on the City of Newberry’s Capital Improvement Plan, taking them through the year 2023, the training facility improvements would take place in two phases, first in 2014-15 and again in 2016-17, as presented by Minick to Newberry City Council during a special meeting Monday.

Minick described the current facility, located in the Mollohon Mill area, as put together with cheap or used items found that others wanted to give away. The bottom floor of the facility is currently used by the recreation department, while the fire department occupies the top for its training courses.

Minick presented council with photos of the current training facility, used to train their department for just about every situation seen on a fire call. Minick also said to practice in a burn training facility, they must travel to Whitmire to use their facility.

“It’s hard to travel out of the city limits together, so as to make sure the city is still manned for an emergency,” Minick said.

Minick showed council examples of burn training facilities in Mt. Pleasant, North Charleston and Sumter to give an idea of what their department might need to move toward in the future. Approximately 10 acres would be needed for the improvements Minick mentioned to council Monday.

Other needs for the fire department listed in the Capital Improvement Plan from 2013-2023 were self-contained breathing apparatuses, several utility vehicles, a possible new fire station pending an ISO evaluation, and extricating equipment.

Police Chief Jackie Swindler discussed items needed for the future of the city of Newberry Police Department. City Manager Al Harvey said that four police cars are replaced each year for the department, and they try to get nine to 10 years service from each car before purchasing new ones.

Council asked Swindler if the department ever looked into electric cars as an alternative. Swindler responded that he had but because their officers were involved in a lot of pursuits, they did not feel those types of vehicles had the suspension and other needs for the job.

“Maybe those would be good options for someone involved in special services, rather than pursuits,” Swindler said.

Public Works Director Mac Bartley named several items under each department of administration, streets, sanitation, building maintenance, and garage that were listed in the Capital Improvement Plan for council to think about.

One of the more expensive projects in the administration category was to remodel the current warehouse, which Bartley said would free up space for other offices. Another project in the public works department was to add an existing equipment shed off Power House Road in Newberry.

“It seems we’re always running out of space for equipment,” Bartley said.

The purchase of equipment such as a mini-excavator, skid steer, street sweeper, along with the yearly resurfacing of streets in the city were among other projects Bartley discussed with council.

Scott Sawyer, director of parks, recreation, and tourism for the City of Newberry, was last to explain the needs listed in the Capital Improvement Plan for his department. Harvey suggested that the Oakland Tennis Center, scheduled for 2013-14, be moved back until the year 2017 due to funding reasons.

Harvey said he was skeptical of having the funding for the estimated $2.4 million project at the time it was projected to begin. He suggested council consider designing the project, and phasing it as the funding became available.

Other big projects listed in the Capital Improvement Plan include the master trail plan, which Mayor Foster Senn was passionate about for the city.

“Trails are something we’ve talked about for years and seemed to have made no progress,” Senn said. “It’s time we made some progress.”

Improvement plans were also discussed on how to improve several parks in Newberry including McSwain Street, Nosegay, Wise Street, Willowbrook, Wells, Mollohon and Marion Davis parks.

Nosegay Park, scheduled to be looked at in 2016-17, is hoped to become a park for a younger age group of 2-5 years old, Sawyer said.

“The need I feel like it serves is having a shelter, a bathroom, and some playground equipment,” Sawyer said.

Although no voting or final decisions took place Monday night, city council was able to take a more in depth look at their CIP. Everything mentioned is subject to review and revision. Another meeting will be held Nov. 6.

Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108 or at eparnell@civitasmedia.com.

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