Within the next year Marietta's police and fire departments could have two new boats and become part of the nation's largest inland port system, according to a presentation during city council's police and fire committee Wednesday afternoon.
Police detective Troy Hawkins and fire chief C.W. Durham said Federal Emergency Management Agency grant money has been approved that would enable each department to purchase a 25-foot by 30-foot custom-built outboard boat.
The police vessel would cost an estimated $193,852, and the fire boat approximately $397,507.
"This is port security grant funding awarded by FEMA to the Huntington Port-Tristate-the largest inland port in the U.S.," Hawkins explained. "We originally applied for this grant in late 2008 or early 2009 but there was some delay, and we just found out the 2009 grant funding has been awarded."
He said May 31 is the deadline to file for the grant money.
The grant monies for the boats would require a 25 percent in-kind or cash match, Hawkins said.
Marietta City Council's water, sewer, and sanitation and finance committees are scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. today in the second floor conference room at 304 Putnam St. All council and committee meetings, except executive sessions, are open to the public.
"But that match can be made up through personnel salaries, training, or purchase of boat safety equipment," he said.
Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, asked if the fire department planned to also keep its current pontoon fire boat.
"There's no reason to keep that boat," Durham said. "The current boat weighs too much and sits too high out of the water to be effective for rescue purposes."
He added that although the department had asked nearly $400,000 for the fire boat, the final price would likely be less than that amount.
Hawkins said one condition of accepting the grant funding for the boats is that Marietta would become part of the Huntington Port-Tristate security system.
"That means the Port can call on us, if needed, for assistance in the event of a major incident, like a bridge collapse or some natural disaster anywhere within the port system," he said.
Hawkins noted that the departments have also applied for future FEMA grant funding to install five high-tech "eyes on the rivers" cameras as well as a large computer server to operate the video system.
He added that federal grant monies could also be used to build docks for the new boats, if needed.
"We do need some city dock space," Vukovic said. "And we have 200 feet of space behind the armory for docks."
Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, expressed some concern for fuel and other operating and maintenance costs for the boats.
"We'll be able to cover those costs," said police chief Brett McKitrick.
Hawkins said it could take about seven to 10 months to have the new boats constructed and delivered to the city once the preliminary paperwork is completed and the orders turned in.
In other business Wednesday, McKitrick asked the committee to approve an application for a Drug Use Prevention Grant, formerly called a D.A.R.E. grant, in the amount of $7,970.
"That's a similar amount to what we asked for last year and they awarded us a little more than $5,000," he said. "The money goes to cover up to 50 percent of an officer's salary to teach drug use prevention in the local schools."
Also on Wednesday, city engineer Joe Tucker asked the streets committee to develop legislation to advertise for bids and award a contract for the 2012 city asphalt paving program.
Total cost of the program is $536,648, with $397,118 from an Ohio Public Works Commission grant, $66,130 in Community Development Block Grant funds, $63,400 from permissive tax monies and $10,000 from the city streets fund account.
Tucker said the funding will provide for paving on 20 city streets and the installation of 17 Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps.
He said the current schedule calls for the contract to be awarded by July 6, with completion of the entire project by Oct. 12.