Birmingham City Council Delays Approving Funds For New Kingston Fire Station

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Residents from the Kingston community showed up at the Birmingham City Council meeting on July 5, to ask leaders (again) to go ahead and replace their fire station. But, again, they learned they will have to wait.

The council did not approve the $3 million request for the new station, even after a lengthy, intense discussion. Instead, it will discussed during the Council’s next Committee of the Whole meeting.

Councilors and the mayor agree about the need for a new station. They’re just at odds on how to pay for replacing the existing building. It shut down earlier this year because of mold, a leaking ceiling, and other problems. The city has a list of public building and equipment needs that totals about $17.4 million. Only $11.9 million is available at this time. That means some projects may need to be trimmed or eliminated, and council members are torn between priorities.

“We can fight later, but the people in the neighborhood need protection as soon as possible. I know how long it takes to build a new building, but if we don’t start on the new building, it won’t get finished any time soon,” says Councilwoman Valerie Abbott. “Let’s get started now and duke it out in private over all these other issues that we have,” she suggests.

Mayor William Bell cautioned the council on delay, saying, “Each day that we delay is another day individuals that live in that community run the risk of having a dangerous situation that we can not respond to in an adequate amount of time.” “We are all in agreement that the station needs to be replaced. Let’s go ahead and replace it,” he continued.

Councilman Steven Hoyt says the city could get started with preliminary work even though the funds have not been approved.

“There’s nothing in what the mayor suggested that we can not do with respect to acquisition of property. We’ve got money in the bank right now,” Hoyt says. “We’ve got to do a title search. We’ve got to get clear title. None of that stuff happens in two days. It doesn’t happen in thirty days and maybe not 50 or 60 days.”

The council’s Committee of the Whole usually meets the fourth Wednesday in each month. Meanwhile, the Kingston Community waits.