Fountain Inn plans to move its Public Works Department and Fountain Inn Natural Gas from their current downtown facility to a recently acquired property on the Laurens County side of the city.
The city purchased the roughly 9-acre tract in December for $1 from ReWa, which operates a pumping station on the property that will soon go offline.
Mayor GP McLeer said Fountain Inn began discussions with an architect this week to start planning construction of the new facility.
"We're not going to be putting a building up quite yet but the planning and design process is starting this week," he said.
City Manager Shawn Bell said Fountain Inn hopes to build a more modern facility for the two departments, which currently sit on a roughly one-acre plot on Jones Street. The extra space will also give public works the room it needs to grow as the city's population continues to expand.
Multiple city services, including sanitation, sewage maintenance, code enforcement, traffic signage and business licensing fall under the umbrella of the public works department. The building where it has been housed for years no longer meets the needs of the department, McLeer said.
"They have definitely outgrown the space," he said. "You can only move one truck at a time in and out and the staff facilities need a lot of upgrades. It needs more than just some TLC."
The new facility will also give city services a larger presence on the Laurens County side of the city. Before the acquisition of the future public works and natural gas site, the city only owned one piece of property in that part of the city — Sanctified Hill Park.
"A lot of people forget sometimes that about 30 percent of our city limits is located in Laurens County," Bell said.
The move will open up roughly one city block where Public Works and Fountain Inn Natural Gas now sit. Bell said the city is still working to determine what will go in that space.
"It could be public parking, it could be developed, it could be something we haven't even thought of yet," he said. "Really, we're not even going to go down that road of what this one and a half acres could be until we get another facility up and running."
A timeline and cost estimate for constructing the new facility has not been finalized.