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Local News

December 6, 2012

PN council holds fate of fire station in hands

PORT NECHES — The fate of Port Neches fire station lies in the hands of its city council.

Councilmembers will decide on Thursday whether to accept a $2.9 million Port Security Grant which will fund a majority of the cost of the construction of a new fire station/emergency operations center during the 4 p.m. meeting on Thursday at city hall.

The deadline for acceptance of the federal grant is Dec. 10.

Port Neches – Groves Independent School District Board of Trustees voted last month to trade the property associated with the proposed fire station site for the existing City Hall property but there are a variety of other previously identified issues that remain unresolved yet must be considered as a part of this discussion, according to information from the city.

Many of these concerns cannot be resolved prior to the Dec. 10 deadline though.

The grant calls for a 25 percent match from the city, which totals about $1 million, and are also facing a federal mandate on a different issue.

The Environmental Protection Agency, at the current time, is requiring the city to upgrade its waste water treatment plant by adding a seven-million gallon retention pond that would cost between $5 to $7 million. The city, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA have been in negotiations on the issue for about two years.

City Manager Andrè Wimer believes the city should accept the grant even with the other issues pending.

“In spite of the uncertainty associated with many aspects of this potential project, I believe that the City Council should approve acceptance of the grant,” Wimer said in a document included in the agenda packet. “That said, it is important to recognize that the City Council will ultimately have to make determinations as to the issuance of debt for the fire station relative to other potential projects. However, the likelihood of receiving grant funds in the future is questionable such that the opportunity to offset construction costs with non-City funds is limited.”

Council will also hear discussion regarding the city’s Splash Park.

On Sept. council requested information regarding the possibility of restricting Splash park usage to Port Neches residents during certain times throughout the week. City staff researched the issue and believe it would be possible to do this. Council also previously discussed the feasibility of charging a fee for the use of the Splash Park.

The item is on the agenda for discussion only and no action will be taken.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

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