When the county completes construction of its public safety headquarters -- a more than $5 million facility that will house Bartow County Fire Department headquarters and Station 1 and Bartow County Emergency Medical Services, both of which are currently in the same building on Ga. 20, and Bartow County Emergency Management Agency, now in the old church that serves as a courthouse annex -- fire engines and ambulances will enter and exit via Felton Road and Tennessee Street.
Still in its planning stage, the 34,500-square-foot facility will give the three agencies about 33 percent more space if you include current outbuildings used for different functions. The departments currently operate out of about 26,000 square feet of space.
"That's between four buildings," said Craig Millsap, county fire chief and second in command of EMA, adding the units have simply outgrown existing structures. "We are going up an additional 8,000 square feet. We are designing it in line if we do add full crews, if in the future, we end up doubling our work force."
The structure will likely include two additional double bays for fire and EMS operations and a hazards protection basement that will house an emergency command post.
"The bays will allow us to house some of our larger equipment," Millsap said. "When the current facility was designed and built, it wasn't even thought of that one day we would have a HAZMAT trailer that's basically a tractor-trailer that we have to house inside a building because of temperature sensitive equipment and testing kits. We'll be able to take a lot of these new things we've gotten through grants, such as our [mobile] command post, and be able to have the room that it takes to do that, and have the room for our normal fire apparatus and as that fleet increased in size based on the size of the buildings that we're protecting.
"We've really looked at least 20 years down the line on this thing."
County Administrator Steve Bradley said the site is currently undergoing extensive grading and preparation. The work will likely continue through spring, as the county develops the property -- with a roadway, a detention pond and water and utility lines -- for more than just the headquarters facility.
"The reason for that, it's not just the 8 acres that we purchased. We made an exchange to do some work on the property so we didn't have to put so much cash into the purchase of the property. That's what the property owner wanted to do. They'd rather have the in-kind work than the cash," Bradley said, adding county officials expect to put the public safety headquarters construction project, funded by a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax approved by voters in 2007, out for bid in March or April.
The county's 8 acres was appraised for more than $1 million but in a deal with a trustee, the county put up $100,000, exchanging the land for infrastructure work. "We can do a lot of that work ourselves so we saw it as a good way to save money," Bradley said.
State Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, the trustee administrating the charitable trust left by John and Ann Collins, said the deal was a win-win situation.
"We needed the infrastructure, we needed the road, the water and the sewer. The problem with a charitable remainder trust is the only thing you can use that money for is for 501(c)3 -- it has to be a nonprofit organization that the money goes to. If the county had paid for the land, the only way I could have used that money was to give it to nonprofit organizations and there would have been no money to put the road in, which I had to do," he said. "As soon as we get the rest of the land sold, these charities are going to get some money.
"All the revenues coming out of that goes to different nonprofit organizations, like Georgia Highlands College, Chattahoochee Technical College, the Boys & Girls Clubs, Advocates for Children, Tellus Science Museum -- we used part of the trust to do The Big Back Yard in their honor. It is for charitable, nonprofit purposes."
Currently there are 6 acres of land left for commercial development, as the Georgia Department of Transportation is expected to take 8 acres as it prepares to build a modified diamond intersection where U.S. 41 and U.S. 411 meet, commonly known as the Cloverleaf. Battles added that could be slated for 2014.
Battles has sold 2 acres of property across from Buffalo's restaurant on Felton Road, and it will become home to Cartersville Surgical Associates. Although the land is up for sale to any interested commercial developer, Battles said he would prefer the 6 acres accommodate a medical services complex.
"I think it would be a great advantage for the hospital to have the doctors' facilities and most of them will be independents. Dr. [John] Perry and his group, Cartersville Surgical Associates, is going to be an outpatient surgical unit," Battles said. "I look for other doctors who are going to be able to do outpatient care to be looking for places like that and they also need to be very close to the hospital."