At the Scottsboro City Council’s Feb. 3 work session, Mayor Robin Shelton asked the council to consider either reallocating funds set aside to renovate batting cages to go towards the purchase of two fire boats or use funds from surplus sales tax to purchase the boats.
Shelton said the fire boats were much needed, and he proposed placing one at Goose Pond Colony and the other at Jackson County Park.
Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus addressed the council Monday evening to discuss the topic further.
“I think there is a need to be more prepared and to have more resources for that type of situation,” said Necklaus.
There are over 400 private house boats in the Scottsboro Fire Department’s coverage. There are 3,000 acres of lake. County Park had 60,000 to 70,000 square feet of roof covered marina before the fire on Jan. 27. Goose Pond Colony has 250,000 square feet of covered marina.
Necklaus said two boats would be ideal because of the time it takes to get from Goose Pond to County Park on the water, and because of the time it would take to get the boat trailered if it needed to go somewhere else.
Necklaus said one boat would slow down response time, but they would make it work if need be. He said the fire department responds to boating accidents, medical emergencies and fires on the water. Right now, they do not have capabilities to get on the water to respond to those emergencies.
Necklaus said the boats would be 20- and one-half feet with 115 horsepower. He said both boats would cost about $113,000.
Councilman Mike Ashburn said he spoke with County Commission Chairman Tim Guffey, and he said the commission would pay for one boat. Guffey said he thinks the commission should help with the purchase of a boat.
“I personally think it would be a good thing, especially if one is kept at county park,” said Guffey.
Necklaus said it would be a twelve-week lead time from when the boats were purchased to when they would arrive. He estimated it would take about four months to get the boats.
Ashburn said he thinks the council should move forward with getting bids on two boats.
Council President Patrick Stewart said the council would have someone from the Goose Pond board attend the March 2 work session to assure one of the boats could be housed at Goose Pond. He said there would also be someone from the County Commission at the meeting to discuss the commission purchasing one boat.
Stewart said he was all for the two fire boats.
“You can’t put a dollar amount on someone’s life, and if we can get something to prevent the loss of life, I’m all for it,” said Stewart.
He said this was the right time to discuss the issue, and anything to help first responders is good for the city.