The current location, off Wilcox Drive near Industry Drive, is leased to the county, which was notified some time ago that the owner wanted to use the land for other purposes as soon it was feasible for the county to relocate the station.
The Sullivan County Commission voted earlier in the week to authorize the purchase of the building, as long as the price didn’t exceed $308,000. The owner of the 9,000-square-foot steel building had been asking $325,000, according to comments made by commissioners at a meeting earlier this month.
“We’ve reached an agreement,” Venable said. “And now we’re working out the details.”
The building the county is buying is occupied by a business, but Venable said its owners already were planning to relocate to a larger site to accommodate the business’ own growth.
After the purchase is complete, the county’s next step will be to have architectural plans drawn up renovation of the building — which will include creation of sleeping and bathroom areas (male and female), for the 16-24 EMS employees who could be based at the facility. The renovations are projected to cost no more than $100,000.
Between eight and 12 trucks will run out of the station, which will serve the same area as the current location. The service area includes West Stone Drive to the north and Sullivan Gardens to the south. Response times should be very similar before and after the move, Venable said.
And the larger size of the new location — it’s at least a third larger than the current location, Venable estimated — will allow more of the trucks running out of the station to be staged inside.
A potential drawback to the new location, compared to the current location: lack of a traffic signal to enter Wilcox Drive.
Venable said he has spoken with Kingsport City Manager Jeff Fleming about having the Kingsport Metropolitan Planning Organization (which has oversight of transportation issues) look into having a special traffic signal installed at Wilcox Court and Wilcox Drive — which would only stop Wilcox Drive traffic when an EMS unit needs to enter the roadway.