Pelham Council turns down federal storm shelters

Many municipalities are building new storm shelters in preparation for severe weather season - but one city decided to say no. Monday night, the Pelham City Council voted against matching FEMA money to build new storm shelters. The Pelham City Council decided to say no to federal dollars in building city storm shelters with no opposition. Mayor Gary Waters told us, he believes it's an improper use of city tax dollars-- which would match federal funds. "The provisions of the storm shelter grant are so rigid, they don't even allow us to put the storm shelters where they're needed," Mayor Gary Waters, Pelham said.{}"By now we should all know that every sacred dollar that comes from Washington is not necessarily attached to something that is a good thing," Waters said.It would have cost Pelham around $200,000 to match the funds from FEMA - money city leaders say is needed elsewhere."In all honesty, the finances became a minor issue in the grand scheme of things," Rick Hayes, Council President said. "We have something that would work just as well for the number of people that we have."One of the city's biggest concerns were the stipulations that came from FEMA."We were limited on locations," Hayes said. "It had to be city owned property to put it on and it limited us on what our options were. One of the issues trying to put it down at the Civic Complex - we were blocking off major parking areas and drives just so we could get it in there as it was allowed by the grant."'The need we have for shelter space has nothing to do with short term severe weather," Waters said. "It has to do with long term emergencies we have stemming from flooding and snow."City hall, the police station, and fire station #2 will all serve as city shelters."When you look at the police station, the big open area downstairs, which it's rated for 160 mph winds," Hayes said.City leaders also told us, so far, they have not had anyone express interest in needing a storm shelter. The Pelham Council President said now their aim is to make sure residents know they can go to any of {}these city buildings during a storm if they need to.