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Posted: October 19, 2011 12:30 a.m.

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Oxford to repair old fire station roof

An unused Oxford city building will be getting a roof repair soon to open the way for leasing the space and turning it into a component of the city's downtown plan.

The roof of the now-vacant fire station has been leaking for several years, and repairing it is essential to attracting tenants. While the city plans to keep and lease the building for several years, eventually it could be razed in the future to make way for a new green space and southern anchor of a new downtown corridor.

City councilors on Monday were presented several roof proposals, one of which is much more expensive than the others and included a life expectancy of 30 years. Officials did not take any action at Monday's work session, but suggested a roof with a shorter life, and lower price tag, would be the most efficient option.

"If we want to keep it for the long haul, that's one thing," city councilor David Eady said.

Five companies have submitted proposals to replace the roof, according to City Manager Clark Miller.

One, however, was a "dramatically higher bid," Councilor David Windham told the full council Monday night.

The existing roof is divided into several sections with a rubber membrane that has deteriorated over the years as the roof has expanded and contracted from temperature changes.

Most of the bids would replace the existing roof system, with variations in metal gauge or insulation. Sunbelt proposed installing a metal roof system with a greater pitch on top of the existing roof, with a layer of insulation between the new roof and the existing one to ease or eliminate condensation.

Officials declined to discuss the prices submitted while they reviewed the proposals and got more details from the companies, but Windham said Sunbelt's proposal is at least twice the cost of the others.

Mayor Jerry Roseberry said Monday the remaining renovation budget for the fire station stood at about $34,000. The project is funded with $90,000 from the special purpose sales tax approved by voters in 2005.

Several years ago, the city dissolved the fire department and entered into an agreement with Newton County for fire coverage and emergency medical services. When the new City Hall building was completed in August 2010, the Police Department moved in with the city government, leaving the building mostly vacant.

City officials plan to renovate the building for rental, though they are in the very early stages of attracting tenants, Roseberry and Miller said. Potential uses officials have discussed include a coffee shop or space for an Oxford College bookstore.

"At this point we're keeping our options open," Roseberry said Tuesday. "We want a nice, clean, efficient building, but we don't want to build more than we need."

The mayor and councilors are considering the renovations in the context of an ongoing effort to create downtown space in the city from Whatcoat and George streets north to Clark Street.

According to city documents, that long term plan envisions a town common area where the fire station and the post office are now, with small businesses lining Emory Street to the north.

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