by Amy Jo Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org
11:15 AM EDT, June 27, 2014
NEW KENT – A regional burn building that’s coming to New Kent is slated for a different location in the county than originally proposed.
The Board of Supervisors voted on June 25 to allow the New Kent Fire-Rescue Department to construct a burn building and a regional public safety training center on Parham Landing Road, across from the wastewater plant and adjacent to 16.4 acres utilized by New Kent Public Utilities.
A burn building is a concrete structure that is set on fire to give firefighters real-life training.
Currently, the closest burn building sites are in Sandston and Gloucester.
The county-owned 10.98-acre property is a few miles from the originally proposed property, a 16-acre piece of county-owned land on Polish Town Road in Barhamsville, adjacent to Henrico Jail East, which once served the Camp 16 prison compound..
According to New Kent Fire Chief Richard Opett, the county was in talks with Henrico County for the past seven or eight months about the original property. However, Henrico County's bond counsel recently turned down the proposal because of “a fear that the project would jeopardize financing for a new jail,” Opett said.
This prompted Opett and the county to search for other sites for the burn building and settle on the 10.98-acre Parham Landing Road property.
“I believe it will be less costly to use this site because it lays flat,” said supervisor Thomas Evelyn. “I think it's a better piece of land, quite frankly.”
New Kent fire officials applied for the Virginia Department of Fire Programs Grant last year in which the county requested that surrounding localities — King William, King & Queen, Charles City, Henrico, and James City counties, as well as the Town of West Point — work together on constructing a regional burn building.
The Burn Building Grant Program is a matching/cost-sharing program based on the size of the project. The pending $450,000 grant requires that a building permit be issued by Aug. 21.
If the grant is approved, New Kent County will work out a memorandum of agreement with the other localities, which could include sharing the building operating costs or paying non-member fees. The estimated project completion date is Dec. 31, 2015.
Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.
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