It’s been a very, very long time coming.

It was well over a decade ago when Guilford County Emergency Services (ES) began talking about an “urgent” need for the county to build a new vehicle maintenance and repair center for emergency vehicles, and, on Friday, March 29, Guilford County officials, Emergency Services personnel and others finallydid something that many, many people have been waiting for: They broke ground on a new ES facility to repair and maintain the department’s fleet of vehicles.

The first phase of the project now officially underway is costing just over $13 million when the price of the land is included, but it should make life much easier on those who repair and maintain the county’s large fleet of emergency vehicles since, currently, those operations are cramped for work space and vehicle storage space.

The attendees were blessed with perfect weather for the groundbreaking of the new facility on Pepperstone Drive.  The location gives the coming maintenance center easy access to I-85 and will make it relatively convenient to most parts of Guilford County.

Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips, who can take a group selfie with the same skill and alacrity as a teenage social media influencer, marked the occasion with the selfie seen above.

On his Facebook page, Phillips commented, “Great turnout and a beautiful day for the ground-breaking of Guilford County Emergency Medical Services Maintenance and Logistics facility scheduled for completion in late 2020.  The wait has been far too long!  I can’t thank our EMS folks and all Guilford County first-responders enough for the incredible public safety and life-saving work they do on behalf of our citizens every day.”

Those who have been pressing for years for the construction of the new vehicle repair facility say that ES staff currently must often leave vehicles being worked on outside, drive them to other storage facilities at night, and they must make other adjustments due to cramped conditions. For instance, repair crews may repeatedly move vehicles out of one spot so that other vehicles can get by. According to ES staff, those all add up to a major loss of efficiency and a big increase in the time it takes to service vehicles and make repairs.

In past years, the project has been held up by various factors, such as proposed project sites that seemed favorable at first but then didn’t check out, the 2008 financial collapse, and temporary changes in plans that at one time called for the maintenance center to be combined with a Guilford County Sheriff’s Department facility. There were other snafus as well.

Nearly a decade, ago, the project looked very close to getting started but it turned out the real estate broker who brought the land deal to the county was the same broker at the center of a major scandal involving a former Guilford County manager.  The land purchase for the proposed site was killed by the Board of Commissioners once that scandal erupted.