More than a decade ago, there were dreams in Camden of three new firehouses to be built with the city’s issuance of $19.5 million in municipal bonds.
But by 2011, the department had downsized with layoffs and had even closed some firehouses. The $5 million for new firehouses went unused.
Camden City Council passed an ordinance at its Tuesday meeting that allows the use reallocation of $2.8 million in bond money meant for the new firehouses. Instead, council approved to use $1.8 million in that bond money to fix the police administration building's heating, cooling and elevator systems. The other $1 million will go toward replacing the roofs at the Liberty fire station and of the fire department’s headquarters downtown.
The ordinance attracted no public comment at Tuesday’s meeting or any opposition from the five council members present. Councilmen Luis Lopez and Brian Coleman were absent.
“It needed to be fixed. It’s a city asset,” said city council president Frank Moran when asked in April about the timing of the improvements to the police administration building.
The building is now being leased by Camden County to run the new County Police Department, which replaced the city police department.
On May 1, the same day the new force officially took over the duties of policing the city, service agreements were signed by the city, county and state transferring all of the city's police equipment to the county for $1. The city also leased its police administration building on Federal Street for $1 but the city is still in charge of capital projects for the building.
The maintenance of the building will be paid through the $62 million the city will be paying the county for police services, county spokesman Dan Keashen said last week.
The $19.5 million bonds were issued in 2001 for the following projects:
- $5.3 million was to go for demolition of structures throughout the city.
- $5 million was to go toward the construction of three new fire houses.
- $3.7 million was to go fire apparatus, including ladder trucks and rescue vehicles.
- $2 million was to go toward renovations of various community centers in the city
- $2 million was to go toward fixing playgrounds and other recreational facilities.