Forest Acres is hoping to build a new police station with a slice of the $36 million pie available to South Carolina communities in a new round of flood recovery aid.
The city wants to use money available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to open a new station on higher ground after the current one was heavily damaged by flooding from record rain in October.
“We need to move that building out of the flood plain,” City Administrator Mark Williams said.
Forest Acres will be competing with Columbia, Richland County and likely more communities for the aid.
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If approved, Forest Acres would build the new station next to City Hall just behind the current one on the 5200 block of Trenholm Road, officials said. City Hall is on higher ground and was not damaged by flooding.
The city for now is undecided on how much to request.
It could ask FEMA for roughly $7 million to build a new station large enough to also house municipal court as the current station does, Williams said.
But it could decide instead to request $4 million to build a station large enough only for police, he said.
The FEMA aid can cover 75 percent of the cost, so Forest Acres would pay for the remaining 25 percent of the project.
If able to build a new police headquarters, Forest Acres could consider tearing down its current one, which flooded with 18 inches of water and sewage.
Forest Acres police officers after the storm worked out of a nearby church for more than a week. They spent the next two months crowded into the station’s second story as the first floor received a renovation.
“Our police station suffered quite a bit,” Mayor Frank Brunson said. “We thought this might be a logical option to explore.”
The station was constructed in 1955, according to Richland County tax records. It was renovated in 2014 before the flood..
“It’s a tired old building with lots of problems,” Williams said.
He said the city hadn’t considered building a new station until the storm.
“We really didn’t think we had a flood risk there,” Williams said.
Columbia officials have said they plan to request $175 million from FEMA for 11 projects, knowing that only a fraction of that could be approved. Richland and Lexington counties also are working on applications.