The Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company is set to renew a 25-year lease from the Army for its Edgewood substation, but the company hopes to ultimately own the property, its leaders said.
"Our initial lease was a joint effort between the commander of [Aberdeen Proving Ground] and [former U.S.] Rep. Helen Bentley in 1990, for 25 years, at $1,500 total," Joppa-Magnolia public information office Andy Doyle said Tuesday.
With the lease set to expire in September and the chance for future funding cuts from budget sequestration for the Department of Defense, Joppa-Magnolia's leaders hope to eventually take over the site of one of the county's busiest fire stations, Doyle said.
"What is going on now is, we are asking the same terms to continue the lease," Doyle said. "We had to comply with environmental studies to extend the lease."
He said the company's initial plan was to renovate the substation, which would be "the most economically feasible option, as well as that keeps us inside the community."
Losing the substation would be a huge problem for Joppa-Magnolia.
"Due to the call volume and the growth of the community, it's become a pillar for the community," Doyle said about the building.
Harford County government recently talked with U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Sen. Barbara Mikulski to advocate on behalf of the company's lease, county spokesperson Cindy Mumby said Tuesday.
The Harford County Council also sent a letter of support earlier this month.
A capital project to renovate the station is on the books, Mumby said, and was previously appropriated $700,000. The project, however, is not set to move forward or get any new funding this year, she said.
Although the Army has not indicated any refusal to extend the lease, if that were to happen, "we would have to consolidate all our resources" to its Joppa station on Old Mountain Road, he said, calling that "a doomsday scenario."
"It would affect the whole county," he said. "We are still going to answer the call, so it would take longer to get there."
Doyle noted Harford County will not give the company money for any renovation or expansion of the building because the company does not own the land.
"We would love to have that land as our own and have a new or newer fire station, whether it's a remodel or complete build," he said. "Securing funding is our current problem right now."
Doyle said the company does not know exactly when it would try to buy the property.
"We are looking at all options right now," he said.
Aberdeen Proving Ground has been working with the fire company for some time to help the organization secure a new lease, Army spokesperson Kelly Luster said Tuesday.
"Aberdeen Proving Ground regularly contacts the organization to ensure there is a clear channel of communication at all times.Our goal is to renew lease within all legal and regulatory guidelines," Luster said via e-mail. "It would be improper for Aberdeen Proving Ground to discuss the specifics of lease including cost or length of a given term."
Luster added: "This lease is day-to-day business for Aberdeen Proving Ground and is in no way tied to any potential sequestration or funding issues."
The Harford County Council, meanwhile, was set to consider a resolution Tuesday evening regarding a loan on the Hanson Road station the company recently refinanced, Doyle said, explaining the resolution is mostly a formality and is unrelated to what the company plans for the Edgewood station.