Pelham likely to turn down storm shelter grant
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
The Pelham City Council during an April 29 special-called meeting likely will vote to turn down a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to bring storm shelters to the city after council members expressed concerns over the grant’s terms.
During an April 22 work session, Council President Rick Hayes said the city’s match on the grant turned out higher than the city originally anticipated.
“I think there’s a general consensus to just say no,” Hayes said. “We are concerned about safety, but it has not turned out the way it was originally intended.”
In 2011, Pelham officials filed a request for a $650,000 FEMA grant, which would come with a $162,500 city match.
During an April 1 council work session, Pelham Finance Director Tom Seale said FEMA instead approved a grant for $802,510, which would require a $312,979 city match.
Seale previously said two of the five storm shelters would be placed at Pelham City Park and the other three would be placed at the Pelham Senior Center, Fungo Holler Park and at the Pelham Civic Complex.
During the April 22 work session, Hayes said if the storm shelter was constructed at the Civic Complex, it would block the facility’s eastern driveway and would eliminate the majority of the parking on the east side of the building.
During an April 23 meeting with Pelham business owners, Councilman Ron Scott said the storm shelter at the Civic Complex would prevent future expansion and development at the complex.
“After looking at it, the formula had changed,” Scott said.
Scott said current storm-warning technology gives residents more advance notice of severe weather, and gives them time to find shelter if needed.
Mayor Gary Waters said Pelham facilities – such as the basement of City Hall and the basement of the Pelham police and court building – are always open to residents who need shelter during inclement weather.
“Every city facility is open to you,” Scott said. “It’s not as if we as a city have turned our back on those who might need shelter.”