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$3.4 price tag for Lexington safety station

A public safety complex to serve the new State Farmers Market and growth around it will cost $3.4 million to build and equip, Lexington County public safety officials said Tuesday.

Operating the center after that would cost an estimated $1.2 million.

The estimates are first glimpse of what it will cost to handle development sprouting on U.S. 321 from Cayce to the largely rural Gaston-Swansea area.

That price tag given County Council members includes building and equipping the complex and hiring 20 deputies, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

Crowds are expected to make the market - slated to open this summer - a challenge by itself with traffic, petty crime and calls for medical attention, county public safety director Bruce Rucker said.

Its events are projected to draw as many as 50,000 people - the equivalent of the popular mid-summer Peach Festival in Gilbert, Assistant Sheriff Keith Kirchner said.

"You can equate it to any festival we have," he said. "This could rise to that level."

And more development is coming to the area as the extension of water and service makes it more attractive for further growth, public safety officials added.

"It's only a matter of time before this area booms even more than it has," Rucker said. "It's important we have something in the area."

The facility would be similar to one near Irmo. It would house nine firefighters, nine emergency medical staffers and two deputies.

Market officials are offering a spot in the development for the proposed public safety complex.

But some council members are concerned that putting the complex there, at the entrance of the market, might not improve fire protection in some rural neighborhoods.

A "more strategic location" nearby may be a better choice, Councilman Billy Derrick of Batesburg-Leesville said.

Putting it elsewhere could solve that problem, but buying a site would increase the cost of the complex, said Councilman Todd Cullum of Cayce.

The challenge will be paying for the plan in a tight economy, some council members said.

"It's the consequence of growth down there," Councilman Johnny Jeffcoat of Irmo said. "It's something we need. We're probably going to have to do it in phases as money allows."