Fairhope gets more funding for safe room

By Guy Busby
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 9/21/22

FAIRHOPE — A new safe room to accommodate Fairhope first responders during hurricanes or other threats will cost about $862,000 more than expected, but the city's share of the cost has gone …

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Fairhope gets more funding for safe room

Posted

FAIRHOPE — A new safe room to accommodate Fairhope first responders during hurricanes or other threats will cost about $862,000 more than expected, but the city's share of the cost has gone down, according to officials.

The Fairhope City Council voted Monday, Sept. 12 to apply for funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to build the facility at a city site on Pecan Street. Jessica Walker, Fairhope community development director, said the costs have gone up, but FEMA now plans to pay more of the costs.

"We've got to increase the budget there, but the good news is FEMA is now going to cover 90% of our cost as opposed to 75% of our cost," Walker said. "So, our budget has increased to $2.7 million. That reflects the current prices and current inflation on all building across the nation. That is an $862,000 and some change increase but because our 90% match, our responsibility decreases significantly to $270,000 and some change."

Under the agreement, FEMA will pay $2.44 million. The city's share of the cost will be $270,409.67.

The initial cost estimate was about $1.84 million with FEMA providing 75% of the funding. Under that agreement, FEMA would have provided $1.38 million, and Fairhope's share of the cost would be $460,351.00.

The new funding agreement is part of FEMA reimbursement efforts following Hurricane Sally, which came ashore in Baldwin County in September 2020, Walker said.

Walker said the value of the city property provided for the site will also count toward Fairhope's share of the costs.

"We also have $156,600 worth of property value for the place that it will sit, so that will help reduce our hard costs all the way down to $113,809.67," Walker said. "That's a significant decrease from what we originally planned to pay for this. Even though we see that number rise on what the overall budget is, it's pretty great to be able to decrease our costs that much."

The safe room will be a 4,072 square-foot facility that will accommodate 77 people, according to city reports. The building will be rated to withstand 200-mile-per-hour winds.

Work is scheduled to begin in June and be completed by June 1, 2026, according to the funding agreement.

Several cities in Baldwin County have also built or approved construction of safe rooms to allow firefighter, police officers and other first responders to take shelter during storms in order to be deployed as soon after the disaster as possible.

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