The Monett City Council has begun seriously exploring construction of another storm shelter to meet standards established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Presently Monett has nine "community refuges" where residents can take shelter in case of severe weather. The Monett R-1 School District has received approval to build a FEMA safety room as the new gymnasium at Monett Elementary School, which will be the first of its kind in Monett.
|Voters approved the school plan in April with the hope FEMA would approve funding for the first storm shelter on the west side of town.|
According to City Administrator Dennis Pyle, city council members held a work session on Oct. 6 with representatives of the Monett Area YMCA and Brian Orr from the Springfield-based engineering firm Toth and Associates, which is working on plans for the new Monett YMCA facility. The YMCA planned to seek funding from FEMA for a safe room, which would be the first shelter on the south side of town.
"Mr. Orr explained that he had worked with the Monett R-1 School District on their grant application," Pyle told The Times. "He assured us that if the city were interested in applying for a grant, it would not have any negative impact on the YMCA's application."
Pyle subsequently met with Brad Erwin, of Paragon Architecture, and discussed Paragon's experience in designing FEMA-approved safe rooms and applying for grant funding. During a work session on Tuesday, council members had a conference call with Erwin.
"If FEMA believes the project has merit and meets their minimum qualifications, then they will notify us to proceed with a more detailed grant application," Pyle said.
Once the city gets on FEMA's list, the city could get approval for funding or decline a grant due to its own financial situation without hurting its chances of getting future funding.
"There doesn't appear to be a downside to submitting an application and getting our name on the list," Pyle said.
Council members are considering several locations in the north central part of town. Pyle said the size of the safe room would depend on the number of people living within half a mile of the site, which is the distance an average person could walk within five minutes. Available parking would not be a paramount concern, but the number of vehicles at the location would be considered.
For the purposes of applying for grant money, Pyle said the city would list the property purchased from the Monett Area Extended Employment Workshop between the Justice Center and the school bus barn, south of Cleveland, as the location of record.
A FEMA grant would cover 75 percent of the cost of materials for the storm shelter itself. Additional costs would come from the city.
"The preliminary estimates that we would use in any application would be a safe room of approximately 8,500 square feet with the city's share estimated to be $380,000 to $400,000," Pyle said. "The next round of applications are anticipated to be due in the spring of 2011, so it will be several months before our application is submitted and several months after that before we would be notified of any award."