UNION — The Bonham Fire Department is planning to acquire land for a new fire station in case its current location is needed for future economic development.
The Bonham Fire Station is currently located on Fire Station Road behind the expanding Gestamp Automocion South Carolina LLC manufacturing facility and the Gonvauto North America steel service center which is under construction.
Bonham Fire Chief Scott Austin said Tuesday that the presence of Gestamp and Gonvauto and any future expansion they might undergo along with the possibility of more new industry being recruited to the area increases the likelihood that his department’s current location will be needed to accommodate such development. He said the department has been looking for sometime for a new location that will permit it to relocate as quickly as possible and make its current site available for an future industrial growth.
“All you’ve got to do is look around and see we’re being encircled with industry,” Austin said. “Someone who wants that property on fire station road might give us enough time to build a new station but not to find land and build a station.”
To avoid that problem, Austin and Chris Scott, Bonham fire board chairman, went before Union County Council Tuesday evening to ask the county to give its approval for a plan where the fire department would purchase 15 acres of land on S.C. 18 and Oak Grove Road from Mary Sprouse for $33,000.
Austin said the land would then be swapped in the future for seven acres of land — also on Oak Grove Road and S.C. 18 — from Don and Ann Henderson. He said the land acquired from the Hendersons would be the site of a new fire station in the event its current location is required for industrial expansion.
Austin said that even though the land would be acquired by the department for its use, it had to be in the county’s name.
Council voted unanimously to allow Bonham to acquire the land and prepare a deed stating that the acquisition was to protect the department’s future interest.
Austin said the cost of the acquisition would be partially offset by $2,000 paid by the Henderson’s daughter and son-in-law, Teri and Richard Rena, to facilitate the deal. It would be further offset by $4,200 paid by Scottie Willard for two of the seven acres acquired from the Hendersons.
Austin said Willard, who purchased the old Bonham fire station on S.C. 18 from the department 12 years ago, wants to use the land for his radio business which he had to close to make way for the construction of Gonvauto. The rest of the acreage would used by the department for a new fire station if one is needed.
In addition to making it easier for the department to relocate if its current location is needed for industrial growth, Austin said the department is wanting to send a message that it is willing to do all it can to facilitate economic development.
“We’re just wanting to send a signal to industry up there and to county council and to the economic development board that if they need this property we’re at on Fire Station Road we’re willing move for economic development,” Austin said. “We don’t want to hold up any industry from expanding in that area.”
The construction the Gonvauto facility and the transportation infrastructure needed to support it has required the county to relocate the recycling convenience center serving the Bonham community and a communications tower. The relocations are designed to accommodate the construction of a railroad spur that will link Gonvauto with the Norfolk & Southern railroad line on the other side of S.C. 18.
Supervisor Tommy Sinclair congratulated the Bonham Fire Department for being forward thinking about its needs and those of any industrial development that may occur in the future.
“This is an initiative on their part, but it is not inconsistent with the potential future development needs,” Sinclair said. “I do appreciate their contingent planning.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.