Horry County eyeing $63 million in public safety building, technology upgrades

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County is looking to spend millions of dollars over the next five years to upgrade services across the county, especially public safety.

As the county’s population grows, so does the need to upgrade police and firefighter equipment.

“We have a number of buildings that are approaching that 25, 30, 35 years (of) useful life,” said county financial director Barry Spivey. “Typically, they’re not made to last that much longer.”

In the county’s five-year capital improvement plan, about $63 million would go to public safety building projects and technology. That includes $26 million budgeted for a new emergency operations center that can withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

About 20 fire stations would also be upgraded. They include the Forestbrook expansion, an addition in Socastee and a rebuild of the firehouse in the Shell community on South Carolina Highway 905.

The Shell fire station burned down in 2008 and hasn’t been replaced.

“It’s a mixture of volunteer stations, it’s a mixture of career stations,” said Spivey. “We’re addressing those needs in a very systematic manner.”

Technology upgrades for public safety in the five-year plan include police body cameras, new records-keeping software and new E911 equipment.

Outside of the public safety money, $20 million would either expand or replace the government building on 21st Avenue North in Myrtle Beach.

That building has several financial services and a magistrate court.

“This project would incorporate those elements, as well as an additional space for a potential police force,” said Spivey.

That complex could stay at the same location or move to an alternate site neaby. A new complex could also be built in Carolina Forest.

The Horry County Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to recommend the capital improvement plan, which now goes to county council for approval.

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