Expensive parking holds new Sylva fire department in limbo

A proposed expansion to the Sylva Volunteer Fire Department building could be up in the air now that the project has come in almost $500,000 more than expected.

The overruns are due to parking and drainage issues that weren’t originally thought of.

The cost has risen from $1.89 million to $2.38 million.

The 25 percent increase is mostly due to extra parking spaces. Sylva town ordinances require an additional 16 parking places would have to be put in if the expansion were built, Interim Sylva Manager Chris Carter said.

Most towns mandate maximum and minimum parking spaces based on the size of the building the parking lot serves. In this case, a bigger building forces them to put in more parking.

There is currently a dirt cliff where the additional parking would go, and it would require expensive dirt work to make way for the parking, Carter said. The cost amounts to roughly $30,000 per extra parking space.

The town is moving forward on the project by seeking a finance company, and Carter hopes bids for the project can be approved by mid-March.

However, the county, which would fund the entire project, has not decided to move forward now that the cost has increased.

Sylva Fire Chief Mike Beck approached the commissioners last week about the project, but the commissioners said they would have to study the issue at their workshop on capital projects in February.

Carter said he can understand that the county wants to further consider funding the project now that the cost has increased.

The fire department expansion would add four bays, a meeting room, office space, sleeping quarters, a laundry room, kitchen and storage. Beck said the expansion is needed because the county has grown.

The fire department was built in 1980, Beck said.

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