SHEFFIELD — Mike Melton has plans for an old U.S. Coast Guard station on Spring Creek, but the first order of business now that it’s been turned over to the county is a bit of cleaning up.
The buildings on Watts Bar Street in Sheffield have been empty for several years after they were abandoned by the city of Sheffield, which had utilized them for firefighter training.
About two years ago, Melton, who is Colbert County’s Emergency Management Agency director, and Colbert County Commissioner Jimmy Gardiner contacted the Tennessee Valley Authority about acquiring the building.
“I received the keys to get into it Friday,” Melton said. “We now have the authority to work on it.”
TVA granted the county a license to occupy the building and make improvements.
Melton and Gardiner said the location is perfect as a staging area for rescue and recovery operations on the Tennessee River because there is an existing dock and access to the river from Spring Creek.
It also can be used as a place to store equipment and vehicles.
Melton said the first thing he wants to do is cut the grass and trim the brush around the property. After that, it’s on to determining what needs to be done to make the facility usable again and how to pay for those improvements.
Melton said he has applied for a $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. If it’s approved, it would require a 50 percent match.
“That would carry us a long way,” Melton said.
“I’m really excited about the possibilities for it,” Gardiner said. “It’s something in our county that wasn’t being utilized at all.”
In addition to rescue and recovery operations, Gardiner said the facility could be used for education and training purposes. He said he hopes the commission will provide funds to help restore the facility, in addition to any grant money that might be secured.
He said the Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments has offered to assist in the search for grant funds. The Alabama Marine Police has expressed interest in using the facility, possibly to store boats if improvements are made to the docking facilities.
“We’re trying to get some estimates on what it’s going to cost to put a nice boat slip and ramp in there and restore the buildings,” Gardiner said.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.