Originally created 12/02/05

Car lot land is meant to train



With the special purpose local option sales tax issue secure, so is the future of a new fire department training center, which could be completed in about two years.

The proposed center, which the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department has wanted for years, is to be built on 10 acres of developed land in south Augusta.

The property is the former home of the Bourne Toyota dealership and is located at Deans Bridge Road and Bobby Jones Expressway.

The facility is among projects for which funds were designated in the most recent special 1-cent sales tax package, totaling $160 million and approved by 66 percent of Richmond County's voters in November.

City Administrator Fred Russell said $6 million designated in the tax package for the fire department will be split between the new center and a replacement firehouse for Station No. 10 on Washington Road.

About $4 million will be used to build the training center; about $2 million will go to replace the fire station, the city administrator said.

Interim Fire Chief Howard Willis said the city, which used about $720,000 from previous special-tax revenue to purchase the property, has closed on the deal and officials are considering now what exactly they would like to have there.

"We're in the process of talking with our people to see what we need, what we want to put there," Chief Willis said.

He also said officials are talking with private industry in the Augusta area. Officials intend to have the center open to train emergency workers at area plants.

The chief also said authorities are looking to set up a meeting with Augusta Technical College to do training in conjunction with the college's fire science program.

The goal is to create a center that can train firefighters and members of private industry in the region, Mr. Russell said.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.

What's Next

Officials are discussing the future center with Augusta Technical College and private industry and are contemplating designs for it and what to equip it with. Officials expect the center to be completed in about two years.