Polk discusses land offer for public safety facility at TIEC

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2017

MILL SPRING – The Polk County Board of Commissioners gave approval this week for employees to research a potential site for a public safety facility near the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).

Commissioners met Monday, Jan. 9 and discussed an offer from TIEC to provide a two-acre site as part of the county and TIEC’s development agreement, which was formerly for White Oak. Commissioners gave a consensus to move forward with the site offered by TIEC, which is located about one half mile from the intersection of Pea Ridge and Sandy Plains Roads.

The parcel is the first part of the development agreement, with TIEC also agreeing to give the county $250,000 in order to build a public safety facility.

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County manager Marche Pittman said Monday he was looking for a consensus to move forward and he plans to bring back more information if commissioners are agreeable with the site.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said he was glad the county manager brought this to commissioners they way he did. Gasperson said he’d like for Pittman to come back with county engineer Dave Odom to describe how the building would be placed on the property and with information about possible water and sewer services. He said he realizes public water and sewer would be expensive.

Gasperson also said that as part of the development agreement, TIEC was supposed to have fulfilled this acreage by 2015. He then asked what number of constructed housing units  will trigger TIEC to give the county $250,000 to build the facility.

County emergency management director and fire marshal Bobby Arledge presented the offer from TIEC and said when 45 units are built, TIEC will grant the $250,000. Gasperson said that could happen in the next few months.

“Hopefully this is going to work out fine,” Gasperson said. “I’m optimistic.”

Commissioner Myron Yoder asked if commissioners agree to this does that mean they are agreeing that the land will be deeded to the county. Yoder also asked several other questions, including the purpose of the facility.

Pittman said it was originally to house fire, EMS and the sheriff’s office so they could all three work together out there.

Yoder said he has hesitation.

“Why are we out there, as far as us as a county, to put an emergency management service out there?” Yoder asked.

He said he feels like the county is taxing its citizens two ways, in that the county collects fire tax out there for its fire departments to take care of that and he feels like it should be a direct thing with the equestrian center.

“If I’m not mistaken, Green Creek has an ambulance,” Yoder said of the Green Creek Fire Department. “Why would we have as a county an ambulance stationed out there?”

Yoder also said he’s concerned the county is going to be responsible for putting a building out there and maintaining the property.

“It feels to me we’re taxing the citizens twice,” Yoder said. “I don’t know if we need to be involved.”

Pittman responded that Green Creek fire is a basic level (medical) service and Polk County EMS is a paramedic level service. Pittman said the county saw this as a way to reduce response times in that area, not just for TIEC. He also said it will enhance Green Creek’s fire service area’s ISO rating, which will help on some homeowner insurance.

Gasperson said this is just to start the research. Pittman said the county is still a long ways from actually constructing a building.

“Nothing says that building has to go under construction immediately once it’s deeded to us,” Pittman said.

Gasperson said even after TIEC gives the $250,000, there’s no time frame on the county.

Pittman agreed but said there will be some pressure at some point from citizens who aren’t being served.

Yoder asked if once the county has the building is the county going to put an ambulance out there.

Pittman said the county is not staffed for that now but the county wants the building to be capable of that for the future.

Commissioner Jake Johnson asked about the time frame.

Arledge said he’d think by the World Equestrian Games, which is scheduled for September 2018.

Pittman said a trigger in the development agreement will be hit by then, but he doesn’t know that an actual building will be there before the equestrian games.

Polk County Planner Cathy Ruth said she isn’t sure condominiums are TIEC’s next building step, but rather hotels, so it could be a slower timeframe of hitting the 45 housing unit trigger than commissioners discussed.

Commissioners approved directing the county manager and fire marshal to continue to research the placement of a building on the offered property, possible water/sewer connections, setback and everything that would be required for construction of a building on the property.