BROOKSVILLE — Brooksville Fire Chief Tim Mossgrove remembers arriving at the scene of a fire in the early 1990s and finding the small frame house on Irene Street ablaze.
Firefighters rushed to hook up their hoses, only to find that the hydrant lacked the pressure to keep up with the demand of the pumper truck. Despite the assistance of other fire crews, the house was destroyed.
The memory of that fire prompted Mossgrove and other fire officials to lobby for the upgrade of hydrants and water lines throughout the city. Much of that work was completed years ago in residential areas north of downtown.
But in south Brooksville, an area that Mossgrove has long believed was in dire need of such upgrades, similar improvements never made it past the drawing board — until now.
Thanks to a federal community development block grant — the first the city has received since 2000 — the Brooksville City Council was able to approve a plan last week to commit $581,430 to improve infrastructure in an area in the city's enterprise zone area north of Dr. M.L. King Jr. Boulevard.
Over the next several months, BRW Contracting of Land O'Lakes will install more than 6,000 feet of new water lines. In addition, the company will upgrade or replace 20 fire hydrants.
The work will include areas along Main, Duke, Union, Crawford, Bacon and Smith streets as well as Lemon, Hazel, Ellington, ACL and Asmara avenues, plus Railroad Place and Wood Drive.
According to community development director Bill Geiger, water lines in that area of the city date back decades, and range in size from 2 inches to 4 inches.
But modern firefighting equipment relies on hydrants capable of delivering up to 1,500 gallons per minute, Mossgrove said. Most of the existing pipes weren't capable of delivering adequate flow.
"It's a problem we've always faced in that area," he said. "We were always forced to find a way to get around it."
The upgrade project is part of an overall infrastructure improvement plan in south Brooksville that includes an $819,110 project launched last year by the county's Community Initiatives Team. That work, which is also being paid for with a CDBG grant, began in July of last year just south of the city limit and includes drainage improvements, sidewalks and water and sewer upgrades. The project is nearing completion.
In 1994, south Brooksville earned state designation as an enterprise zone. Under the program, businesses that renovate buildings, buy equipment or create new jobs can apply for credits and rebates worth thousands of dollars to be used against their state sales and federal corporate taxes.
Geiger said that once the infrastructure work is completed, the area will be ripe for new businesses.
"We know that there are some companies that have been eyeing south Brooksville as a future home," Geiger said. "This is a positive step toward bringing them here."
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or [email protected]