Guilford County finally has an answer to its decade-old question, and that answer is the corner of Vandalia Road and Rehobeth Church Road.
That’s where Guilford County will put a long-awaited $20-million Emergency Services maintenance, storage and logistics facility that will house the department’s vehicles and be the central hub for repair and maintenance of those vehicles.
Guilford County Emergency Services officials say the location is an excellent one and that it’s a relief that this project finally has a home. The land was once owned and used by Clayton Homes, the country’s largest maker of manufactured homes and modular housing. The lot was filled with empty mobile homes and was used for a similar purpose for Oakwood Mobile Homes before that company was bought by Clayton Homes.
According to Rick Mosher, a project manager with Guilford County’s facilities department, the county is actually buying four tracts of land: 1201 and 1205 Pepperstone Road, 3802 Rehobeth Church Road and 1002 W. Vandalia Road. Moser said the total area when assembled will be just under 10 acres and the final street address is yet to be determined.
Guilford County Emergency Service Manager Jim Albright said Guilford County has badly needed the service and storage center for years.
Money for the first phase of the project has already been approved by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, whose members have been discussing the chosen site for months in closed sessions.
Albright said county officials are meeting and working with some residents near the site to assure that the county’s operations aren’t disruptive to that area. He said that, since this land overlooks a highway and is already zoned for its intended purpose, he doesn’t expect much concern.
He also said that most residents like having Emergency Services nearby.
“Generally that’s the case and we don’t expect any public outcry,” Albright said.
He said the meetings with neighbors would allow county officials to get input about any concerns and address any issues.
“We want to be good neighbors,” Albright said.
He added that, given that there are only a few homes in the area there should only be “minor disruption.”
In recent years, Emergency Services officials have expressed a desire to be in southern Greensboro somewhere near I-85, and this site, near the intersection of Vandalia Road and Rehobeth Church Road, fits the bill perfectly. It also provides room for county services to expand with a growing fleet – something the Emergency Services fleet has been doing for decades.
“It’s a great location,” Albright said. “It checks off a lot of boxes for our us. We had always wanted it to be in the interstate corridor. This literally faces the interstate.”
The Emergency Services director said he and other county staff had considered some spots in more expensive areas but added, “This is a great option for us.”
The county has been searching for a good location for this project for over a decade and, about six years ago, Guilford County nearly bought a site for this purpose but commissioners voted the purchase down after many became concerned that there had been impropriety in the selection process. At that time, former County Manager Brenda Jones Fox had entered the county into a bizarre and secret contract with the real estate agent who had supposedly located that property.
Albright said one factor that has contributed to the length of time it has taken to find a good spot is that parts of the base have to be built to a “Category 4” standard – a very high standard that means the building is likely to remain standing and functional under conditions where regular buildings would not. Albright said that, for a long time, county officials were looking for a standing structure to modify or add to, but last year they determined they weren’t likely to find that.
Guilford County’s Emergency Services Department has been repairing its vehicles at the current facility at 1321 N. O’Henry Blvd. in Greensboro since 1982. One county official said last year that that location often looked like something one might see “in a third world country,” with workers at times servicing vehicles outside in the rain and vehicles stored haphazardly due to a lack of space. The department has also been storing vehicles outside its headquarters at 1002 Meadowood St. in Greensboro.
Albright said that, in addition to maintenance and repair services, the new facility will also be a valuable place to warehouse county vehicles inside rather than outside.
“Right now it’s incredibly tight,” he said. “We are absolutely jammed into a shoebox. This will allow us to put them is a storage facility and protect the asset.”
Guilford County officials say it’s likely to be 18 to 24 months before the facility is complete and operational.
Guilford County Commissioner Alan Perdue, who was the county’s Emergency Services director for years before he retired and Albright took the reins, said this site is in an area that is close to large vehicle repair services the county is likely to use. He said that that kind of logistical convenience should be very beneficial.
Like Albright, Perdue said this was an extremely good location when it comes to the purposes of the department.