By Sadie Hunter
One month after voting down plans for a new public safety training facility, the Hamilton County Council on Sept. 2 shut down the majority-proposed resolution to fund a burn tower for county fire departments after no vote was taken.
At their Aug. 5 meeting, the council left a room full of cops, firefighters and other public safety officers, who were in support of the training facility, disappointed after denying the one-time $3 million investment request.
The facility would have been on land donated by the City of Westfield at 161st Street and River Road in Noblesville. Councils in Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville and Westfield all signed resolutions agreeing to put forth $40,000 each annually to build on the land.
That night, the council voted 4-3 against the facility, with councilors Jim Belden, Amy Massillamany and Steve Schwartz vying for Council President Paul Ayers’ vote in favor of the facility, against councilors Brad Beaver, Fred Glynn and Rick McKinney, with no luck.
After that vote, the foursome said they would support funding $568,000 for the burn tower, a key component in initial training facility plans.
The plan for the burn tower came across the desks of councilors again at the Sept. 2 meeting. The money would have come out of the council’s rainy day fund, which currently holds more than $20 million.
Councilor Glynn said the council did not put the fire tower up for a full vote after the Hamilton County Public Safety Board said they would need to reexamine the scope of the project.
In the letter, Hamilton County Public Safety Board Chairman George Kehl said, “How an 81 percent decrease in the overall scope affects the cost of completing the [burn]tower has yet to be determined. Accepting the $568,000 proposal without knowing the true cost to complete the project would be irresponsible…the Public Safety Training Center proposal identifies there is approximately $200,000+ in infrastructure improvements required to complete the original $3 million dollar project. Carving out $568,000 for the multipurpose burn tower eliminates economies of scale for infrastructure improvements under the scope of the original $3 million dollar proposal. This would include, but not be limited to, earthwork, utilities, parking areas, roadways, etc. it is important to understand that these costs are now unknown as they apply to the multipurpose burn tower.”