Leland Fire Station Cost Increases 13%, Animal Control Facility Ends October

The cost of Leland’s fire station is increasing 13%, the animal control facility will end in october

WILMINGTON — Of two new projects at a government complex in Leland, one is on track to complete on schedule while a larger project will see rising costs.

The City of Leland has added nearly $450,000 to the budget for a project that will fund its new fire hall, located on the operations campus.

READ MORE: Leland will build an 1,800 square foot amphitheater in a city park.

The city purchased the 17-acre industrial site near Highway 74 in 2020 for $2.8 million with plans to build it. The site already had five buildings, which the city has turned into warehouses to store supplies and equipment for many city departments and a space for public safety training.

Brannon Richards, the city’s director of utilities, confirmed that the city is considering adding a hot burn training center and a service center for city vehicles. Although the site infrastructure is sufficient to cover the city’s needs, new projects will require more stormwater management and paving.

“There are a lot of opportunities with this site given its size and proximity to [highways] 74 and 76,” Richards said.

For now, he’s focused on the newly built fire station, which is on schedule, but city council approved a variation order on September 15 that boosted his bottom line by 433,278.52. The entire project rose about 13%, totaling $3 million for the station instead of its original contract price of $2.6 million.

“Part of the reason for this change order was some scope changes during construction,” Richards said. “Also, when we launched this contract, it was in October 2021. Obviously, there have been significant increases.”

The facility on Popular Street NE is a design and build contract with Wilmington-based Environments Unlimited, which the board approved on November 30, 2021.

To fund the increase, the city transferred $350,000 from the Municipal Operations Compus fund and $100,000 from the City Hall Update budget. A budget amendment memo from Leland’s chief financial officer, Carly Hagg, said moving the funds would close the already completed Operations Campus Capital Project and a former town hall project fund.

Construction of the fire station began in June and is expected to be completed in May 2023.

Richards said the price was still well below the budget of other fire stations being built in the area. A new WIlmington Fire Station to build costs $5.7 million, and Richards said the projects are comparable.

The building will have four bays, a training room and a fitness center. It is the city’s first new construction on the 1897 Andrew Jackson Highway.

Leland Fire Chief Ronnie Hayes said the city will continue to use the old fire hall on Old Village Road, but what’s unclear; a Leland spokesperson did not return the requests by the press.

The fire department, which has been operational in Leland since 1959, will relocate in May and operate out of Stations 51 and 53. Hayes, who has worked in the city since the late 1980s, said the distribution of the two stations follows how the city is growing and will improve service response time.

“The city looks a lot different now,” he said.

Another relocated facility will be animal control, which Richards says will be a major improvement over the old location. It will be renovated for about $100,000, according to city project manager Will Lear.

It will have office space for the office of animal control with new kennels and more space so the town can choose to expand in the future.

The Animal Services Department is part of the Leland Police Department and has only one animal control officer, Kevin White, who responds to incidents of strays, aggressive animals and calls for abuse in the 22-city .7 square miles.

Leland Animal Services acts as a temporary holding facility for pets for 72 hours. If an owner does not claim an animal within that time, it is transferred to Brunswick County Animal Services.

Founders Park is being upgraded, pushing the facility to a new space as the city plans to expand Perry Avenue along the park

The new building is expected to be commissioned in October.

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Jennifer R. Strohm