LUMBERTON — A fire station in East Lumberton will be converted to a public safety facility with 24-hour ambulatory services that proponents say will better address emergencies in the neighborhood.
The Lumberton City Council, meeting as the Council Policy Committee, voted 5-1 Wednesday to allow Lumberton Rescue and Emergency Medical Services and Robeson County Emergency Medical Services take over operation of Fire Station 2. Councilman Harry Ivey, who represents Precinct 4, where the station is located, voted against the change. Councilmen John Robinson and Don Metzger and Mayor Raymond Pennington were not present.
Ivey voiced concern that the station, named in honor of former Councilman Horace Philips, would would not be maintained.
“I’m sort of opposed to it. I’m sort of scared of it,” Ivey said. “… I’d rather keep it as a fire station.”
Robert Ivey, commander of Lumberton Rescue and EMS, told the group the name of the station would not be changed and that a fire truck at Fire Station 2 would remain there as long as necessary. Ivey said several Lumberton firefighters work part-time with the rescue squad and know how to operate the vehicle.
The station, located off of N.C. 72 near the site of the old Weatherspoon Plant, was originally constructed to respond to areas that would be cut off if a train were on nearby tracks. The plant closed in 2011, reducing train traffic.
Firefighters at the station would be able to staff other stations in the city, allowing the city to meet the National Fire Training Associations’ staffing requirements. The station is currently closed an average of 25 days each month.
During a 12-month period studied by the city, the station received 590 ambulance calls and 66 fire calls. Just 18 of the fire calls came from the south side of the tracks, where the station is located.
City staff and emergency services representatives met on Aug. 28 and agreed that the city would lease the building to Lumberton Rescue and Robeson County EMS. The city will continue to cover the cost of insurance — $1,999 a year — and telephone and internet at $134.90 per month.
The council also agreed to allot an additional $12,500 to Lumberton Rescue to maintain the station. The rescue squad had requested $25,000 in the city’s annual budget, but only $12,500 was awarded at that time.
In other business, the council:
— Agreed to let Robeson Rifle Guards Camp No. 216, of Lumberton’s Sons of the Confederate Veterans, “adopt” Norment Cemetery, provide monthly cleanup and erect a monument to fallen Confederate soldiers. The monument will be 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
— Gave Robeson County Church and Community Center $10,000 per year for the next five years to go towards repairing the center’s roof. Robeson County commissioners recently agreed to the same financing.
— Voted in favor of a rezoning request from Murphy Brown LLC it needs to construct a livestock trailer wash facility at the northwest corner of Contempora Drive and Kenny Biggs Road. The request was referred to the Planning Board.
— Voted to erect no parking signs on McMillan Avenue between West 31st and West 33rd streets on both the east and west sides and on the south side of West 31st Street from McMillian Avenue to Floyd Avenue. Parking will be prohibited from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
— Approved the following designations of Community Revitalization Funds: $315.08 for a handicap ramp at 2308 Rosenwald St.; $200 for renovations at the African American Cultural Center; and $500 to Lumberton police Officer Jospeh Frederick, who will be running the New York City Marathon and is raising donations.
— Accepted a $16,179.11 grant for the Lumberton Police Department to buy 65 bulletproof vests. The grant has a dollar-for-dollar local match.
— Tabled a request from Jantzen Brantley to rezone property located at 3571, 3417 and 3467 Lackey St. until the application is fully complete.
— Accepted a $6,375 bid from Environmental Concerns to remove asbestos from a building at 22 Canal St.
— Approved a request to put up a sign for Southeastern Health Park at 4901 Dawn Drive.
— Approved a conditional-use permit for Wanda Britt to rent out an apartment within a home at 224 Warwick Mill Road.
— Authorized August 2014 tax releases.