The Lauderdale County Agri-Center is the future site of a FEMA 361 Safe Room.
LEMA Director David Sharp says engineers are already drawing up plans to build the facility that will allow for 2,000 people to stand in the room and about 500 people to sleep there. It will sustain winds of up to 250 miles per hour. Lauderdale County supervisors voted 4 to 1 in favor of the project. District 2 Supervisor Wayman Newell voted against it.
"My main concern, again, was I didn't know what the bottom line of the cost to the Lauderdale County taxpayers would be," Newell says.
Newell says he is worried about underlying costs, such as having to add showers, shrub work, and other features. Sharp says the safe room will cost the county about $160,000 dollars. County supervisors have already set aside $60,000 of that cost. The rest is being taken care of by a $3 million FEMA grant. Sharp says it is possible that an extra cost could be incurred if showers have to be added to the structure.
"My thoughts is that we needed another site when this safety room was bid," Newell says. "It was only one site and that's out there at the agri-center, turned in and we could have had multiple places."
Sharp says he disagrees. He tells Newscenter 11 that 3 options were presented to supervisors before Newell was elected to the Board of Supervisors. Sharp says he was told the other two options were on land that was considered too valauable. Newell still insists land near the Interstate 20-59 Industrial Park would have been a better option in terms of controlling traffic flow. For now, the project is moving forward.