Community asked to help pay for Lake Anna rescue station

With a 5-1 vote at the Jan. 21 meeting, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors agreed to add $796,400 to the draft fiscal year 2021 capital improvement budget for a new emergency services station near Lake Anna.

The board asked a newly formed community group, the Foundation for Lake Anna Emergency Services, to help raise the first $100,000. Brian Gilbreth, a foundation board member, said the group has applied for nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service.

Supervisor Tommy Barlow (Mountain Road district) voted against the funding. He said he needs more information about where money will come from to pay for ambulances and other equipment at the station. Supervisor Toni Williams (Jackson district) was absent.

Some 30 Lake Anna residents spoke at the meeting to voice their support for the new facility prior to the board’s action.

“Ever since I moved to the lake, I’ve watched the community grow in numbers of full-time residents,” said Dan Braswell, Oak Grove Homeowner’s Association president. “And now, in addition to having a lot more activity on the water, there are a lot of elderly people living full-time at the lake.”

Phillip Winston, another lake resident, said the board has approved numerous large commercial developments recently near the lake and should have a rescue station nearby to serve them.

Assistant County Administrator Jeffrey Ferrel presented an estimate of the construction cost to build the station at 1856 New Bridge Road (Route 208), a county property currently used as a dog park.

The building itself will cost an estimated $464,500. The remaining money will be spent on site work, utilities and miscellaneous items such as furniture and fixtures. A 10 percent contingency is built into the budget to cover unplanned expenses.

“When we cost estimate things like this, we try to go conservative,” Ferrel said. “That means we go higher than expected. If I was going to build something today, it can be done for this amount, but we also try to forecast out as well.”

The estimate does not include operating, equipment or staffing costs, which will make the total cost to open the station significantly higher. The county is considering using existing ambulances and other resources to outfit the new rescue station.

The total building size is expected to be between 5,000 and 6,000 square feet and will include two or three garage bays. The top of the building will have a shingle roof, metal facade.

On the inside, there will be a common space that will have one office, a lobby, a combination breakroom/kitchen and restrooms. Emergency personnel will have their own sleeping quarters with separate bunk rooms for men and women.

The board discussed expanding the station’s scope to include fire trucks and staff ­in the future. Because the building will be a metal shell, additional bays can be added later.

The community group Citizens for New Bridge/Fire/Rescue, which first lobbied for an emergency services station in the Route 208 corridor in 2016, tallied 2,000 homes in the Lake Anna area at that time more than five miles away from the closest rescue station.   

Many residents say the new station will be critical in reducing the time it takes to respond to emergency calls.

In the past 20 years, the population in Louisa County has grown by 50 percent. The last time a new fire station was built was in 1992; the newest rescue station in 1998. The New Bridge Road station would be the first built primarily through the county government’s budget, rather than raised by volunteers.

The Louisa County Planning Commission is expected to vote on the draft capital improvement plan on Feb. 13. The supervisors will then consider the proposed station as part of the overall fiscal year 2021 budget.

Note: This article has been changed from the original version, which said that it would help many homeowners and businesses with their insurance costs. That may be true in the future if fire trucks are housed at the station in addition to ambulances.

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