City makes offer on two Burr St. properties

  • The city is looking to buy the former Debra's Florist building to build a new police station.
  • This vacant house on Burr Street will soon be demolished to make way for a new fire department.

The City of Barnwell is one step closer to having new police and fire departments after city council accepted counter offers from two property owners.

During council’s special-called Oct. 12 meeting they met in closed session to discuss the final offers on the two properties located at 125 and 150 Burr Street. Upon returning to open session, council voted to accept the counter offers made by the two owners. Mayor Edward Lemon then signed a contract.

Details of the offers have not been made public as the deals have yet to close; however, City Administrator John Zawacki said they hope to have everything finalized within 30 days.

The city is waiting on demolition costs for both buildings. The former Debra’s Florist building will be torn down to make way for a new police department while the other building, a vacant house, will be torn down along with the current police administration building so a new fire department can be constructed.

“We are working on getting drawings that would show the footprints of the two buildings on each respective property. Also we have now had all the buildings inspected for lead and asbestos,” said Zawacki during council’s regular monthly meeting the week before on Oct. 2.

The current fire station contains 1,600 square feet of asbestos floor tile and 435 linear feet of asbestos pipe insulation that will have to be abated, said Zawacki. The current police administration building only has asbestos in the caulking around the windows, which will have to be removed prior to demolition.

The new police and fire department is the city’s number one project on the 1 percent capital sales tax list.

They originally planned to build a joint public safety building on Marlboro Avenue, but most councilmen wanted to keep police and fire departments downtown.

In regards to the wells on the former Sara Lee property on Dunbarton Boulevard, Greaves Water Company is scheduled to do a pump test. The current owner has no use for the wells and tank, but the city could have them as a backup for the nearby Orchids Paper Products plant. The wells produced 400,000 gallons of water per day when Sara Lee was in business.

“We had the water tower inspected and the inside of the tank was in surprisingly good shape, but the outside will need refurbishment,” Zawacki said. The paint is lead-based and will have to be collected after sandblasting for proper disposal.

Council also approved a request made by the Barnwell County Museum.

The city previously allocated $7,000 in one-time funds to the museum to repair the old police station that sits on the Circle downtown. The museum board asked if council would let them use any excess funds to make other improvements to the Fuller House where the museum is housed.

Council unanimously approved the request during the Oct. 2 meeting.

In other news:

• Lynn McEwen, the city’s tourism and downtown development director, invited everyone to Fall Fest on Thursday, Oct. 19. There will be food, music, games for the kids, children’s costume contest, scarecrow contest, mini pumpkin painting and trick or treating with participating downtown merchants.

• Council went into a brief closed session Oct. 2 to discuss an ongoing SLED investigation involving the police department. No action was taken upon returning to open session.