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MJ in hot pursuit of third fire station

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Mt. Juliet is in hot pursuit of a third fire station on the north end of town.

In a Monday evening special-called work session Fire Department of Mt. Juliet Chief Jamie Luffman revealed another possible site for a third station.

Currently, the city has a station behind City Hall in central Mt. Juliet, and two-and-a-half years ago the city built a new station near Providence on Belinda Parkway. It is staffed full time and has a full-time volunteer force.

On a quest to cover north Mt. Juliet, city officials has considered (and still is considering) a tract of land on South Greenhill Road that could be leased for $1 a year from West Wilson Utlility District. However, ingress and egress to this potential site could cost the city up to $300,000 for the construction of turn lanes.

This new site is on land at 13345 Lebanon Road, potentially for sale by Greenhill Church.

"I wanted to get permission from the city commission to do due diligence and possibly negotiate to buy the parcel for our third fire station," Luffman said before the meeting.

Luffman said the property has an empty house on it that was formerly owned by Fred Hayes. No price has been thrown out, but the parcel could cost a couple hundred thousand dollars. At this point everything is negotiable as there are several site options for the city.

"I get the impression from the pastor at Greenhill, the church may want to downsize, get out of some debt and be a community partner," Luffman said.

Commissioner Brian Abston leaned toward the South Green Hill Road site.

"Up front it is free," he said. "Why would we need a turn lane on both sides of the road? We could put up lights and signage."

However, there are also questions about turn radius for the fire trucks at this site.

While all commissioners realized the purpose of the workshop was to give a nod to Luffman to further talk with Greenhill Church and get solid numbers, they discussed the cost of demolishing the house on the property and dealing with a possible septic system there.

"It seems like the costs will be similar," Abston remarked.

The two sites are about a mile apart and the entire fire station project will require a couple million dollars, they surmised.

Luffman noted with the Lebanon Road location "almost every mailbox will be covered in our service area." Though it emerged at each location "a few houses" will still not be in the sought-after five-mile radius coverage from all stations in Mt. Juliet.

Abston noted that even today there is great fire protection coverage, but with the third station it would be even better.

City Manager Kenneth Martin freely admitted he "likes free," and the South Greenhill Road land is nearly that at $1 a year.

Luffman indicated he preferred the Lebanon Road location because of efficiency and safety reasons. He said he is focused on north Mt. Juliet because citizens there "pay taxes too." A few years ago the city instituted a 20-cent-per-$100 assessed property value tax, which raises about $1.7 million a year dedicated to fire service. All that goes to operate the city's existing two stations.

"Yes, we will have to be imaginative and resourceful to fund a third station," Luffman said. "We will also have to think about staffing. It's a million-dollar-plus endeavor, but needed."

The final directive from the mayor of Mt. Juliet was to "show us the numbers." Martin said they would conduct the task and come back in the near future with more information for the city commissioners.

Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at everettlaurieann@yahoo.com.

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Tags: 
Brian Abston, Ed Hagerty, fire hall, fire safety, fire station, Jamie Luffman, Kenny Martin, Lebanon Road, Mt. Juliet, Mt. Juliet Commission, Northtown, public safety, Ray Justice
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