DANVILLE — Seven years ago, Vermilion County spent $200,000 in federal grant money buying two vacant buildings on Georgetown Road for a new emergency management headquarters, and now, county officials are considering demolishing one of the structures, because it floods and has sewer issues among other problems.
Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon said ideally, the county would like to demolish the one-story, stone-facade building at 2507 Georgetown Road just north of Belgium and replace that space by building an addition onto the metal pole barn building at the back of the property.
The Vermilion County Board's public safety committee held its regular monthly meeting at the property Wednesday night and discussed the situation.
At the back of the property, the 8,000-square-foot warehouse building with concrete floor is all in good shape, according to county officials. The Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency stores its vehicles and equipment there.
But the aging stone-facade building in front, which houses the emergency management offices, training room, emergency coordination center and the Vermilion County coroner's office, is not in good shape, despite the more than $50,000 the county spent on renovations soon after buying the property. For many years, the stone-facade building had been a television and appliance store but was sitting idle when the county bought the property in 2005.
At that time, county officials went in search of a new headquarters for the emergency management agency, which had been housed since its creation in 1976 in the Public Safety Building, 2 E. South St., Danville, which is also home to the Danville Police Department, Vermilion County Sheriff's Department, county jail and 911 communications center.
The space vacated by the emergency management agency allowed the 911 center to execute its long-term expansion plans and allowed the emergency management agency to have more space and pull all of its equipment, which was stored in various spots throughout the county, into one location.
Due to Vermilion County's proximity to the Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana, the agency was eligible for federal funds from the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program and received $249,000 in grant funds for the relocation plans. The county bought the buildings for $200,000 in early 2005, and exhausted the rest of the grant money on renovation materials, and in August 2006, the building was still not ready for the agency to move into it.
Bill Boyer was county board chairman then and Bob Huff was director of the emergency management agency.
In December 2006, the agency finally moved into the facility, but renovations, which were being handled by agency volunteers, were still not complete. Eventually, the county's building and grounds personnel stepped in to finish, and Huff resigned as the agency's director in late 2007, and Boyer was defeated in his re-election bid to the county board.
McMahon said the front building has had issues ever since he took over as chairman about six years ago. He said the building sits at a lower elevation than surrounding properties and lower than Georgetown Road, so it takes on water when it rains, and it also has ongoing sewer problems.
McMahon said long-term, it would be more cost effective for the county to demolish that structure and build a simple addition onto the back building. The addition would house only the emergency management agency office, training room and command center, and the coroner's office would be moved back to Danville in available space at one of the county's existing buildings.