Dresden City Board
BY DAVID FISHER
On Tuesday, October 11, members of Dresden’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the basic interior design and the footprint of a municipal complex to house a new city hall, police department and fire department, which were destroyed in the Dec. 10, 2021 tornado.
Board members reviewed technical drawings showing the outline of the structure and where it will be located on property owned by the City of Dresden. This includes a sizeable part of the city block across the street from the south side of the Weakley County Court Square.
Senior Structural Engineer Ryan McDaniel and Project Architect Stan Rowland from A2H out of Memphis, as well as Cary Henson and Jimmy Henson of Henson Construction Services out of Jackson, answered questions raised by board members concerning the basic layout and function of the municipal complex.
McDaniel stated, although the interior walls may have to be adjusted somewhat, the floorplans show the general location of rooms to be utilized by the City’s various departments. Some of the rooms are to be used exclusively by a specific department, while other rooms are designated as common areas that can be used by different departments, as needed.
The drawings indicate the location of offices at Dresden City Hall, including those for the mayor, city recorder and finance director.
The Dresden Police Department features offices for the chief of police, police investigator, and DARE officer. It will also have a patrol room, workspace, evidence room, storage room and records room.
The fire department will have an office for the fire chief, an apparatus room with multiple bays for firetrucks and other firefighting equipment, as well as rooms for turnout gear, decontamination, tools, compressor, storage areas, electrical and mechanical rooms.
Additionally, there will be a kitchen, pantry, laundry room, sleeping quarters, showers, and a day room. These facilities will provide space for full-time firefighters, if the City eventually decides to fund full-time personnel.
Areas open to the public include a “safe room”, which will be available during dangerous weather conditions, such as a tornado. Additionally, the plans include a multiple purpose courtroom, lobby and restrooms.
A2H representatives noted having all three departments under one roof, instead of in separate buildings, allows for sharing walls and utilities, which would save money on construction, maintenance and operating costs.
Discussion also included the parking lot, sidewalks, drainage, and easements for sewer lines to be located behind the former Flower Box, owned by Stephanie Kemp, and Majestic Restaurant property owned by the Tony E. Winstead and his wife, Inju Winstead.
Alderwoman Sandra Klutts stated she’d like for the municipal complex to be high enough quality to last 50-100 years, and A2H assured her that would be no problem.
Alderman Gwin Anderson mentioned the possibility of circulating warm water through pipes underneath the sidewalks to keep the sidewalks clear of snow and ice in the wintertime. He stated he has seen this type of system used effectively in other states.
When the question was called on the motion, board members voting to approve the floorplan of the municipal complex and to develop the exterior design included Gwin Anderson, Donnie Essary, Sandra Klutts, Willie Parker, Ralph Cobb and Kenneth Moore. Dresden Mayor Jeff Washburn also spoke in favor of A2H and Henson Construction proceeding with the project.
After the Board approved the interior design and overall footprint of the building, A2H representatives indicated they should have an updated plan showing the exterior design of the structure in time for the next Dresden Board meeting on Nov. 7, 2022.
Cary Henson estimated he should have construction cost estimates ready for the aldermen’s consideration within two to three weeks after receiving the revised plans.
City Recorder Jennifer Branscum said, “Right now, we don’t know how much the project is going to cost or how much grant funding we’re going to get.” She noted that mitigation funding for the safe room may be available through FEMA, but an application cannot be submitted until cost estimates are known.”
According to Mayor Washburn, whatever the City’s portion of the cost for the municipal complex is, it could be financed with a long-term 25 to 30-year municipal bond issue.
As far as moving from the planning stage to actually beginning the dirt work at the site is concerned, Branscum said, “That probably won’t occur until spring at the earliest.”