Kimberly City Council

Kimberly council members hear from James Lehe of Lehe Planning on community safe room project. 

KIMBERLY—The Kimberly City Council heard from James Lehe of Lehe Planning on Monday night in regards to an ongoing project designed to provide the city with a ʻcommunity safe room.ʼ

The project, which began its infant stages following a 2014 tornado, changed hands last October after numerous expectations surrounding the structureʼs design were not met.

On Monday at Kimberlyʼs bimonthly council meeting, Lehe, who is now managing the project, presented the council with changes that have been made to the design of the building. Lehe mentioned that construction and completion of the safe room could be achieved in six to 10 months time.

He also assured the council that the building, which is designated for a location within the Kimberly Municipal Park, will be capable of serving a dual purpose.

“The building will have two bathrooms,” said Lehe. “It’s a dual-use safe room, because if you just used it for a safe room, you may never use it. The big advantage here is that you end up with a recreation building, even though the underlying funding purpose of it is for the safe room.”

The building will be 615 square feet and capable of holding ‘just over 100’ people when being utilized as a safe room. The previous plan had a maximum occupancy of 64 people. Lehe also said the shelter is designed to withstand wind speeds as high as 250 miles per hour.

Funding is provided by a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program which, according to Lehe, will cover 75 percent of the total cost.

That remaining 25 percent does not have to be paid in cash.

Estimated construction costs have been set at $190,000.

Floor plans have been provided by Robert Polk, an architect based out of Jackson, Miss.

“The architect that put this together [Polk] has also designed one that holds 1,700 people in the City of Tuscaloosa; it’s going to double as a gymnasium, so be thinking about what else you might be able to use this for,” said Lehe to the council.

Council members have mentioned the idea of opening the building’s restrooms to the public.

After Lehe’s presentation, the council passed a motion to approve the project’s revised budget of $294,605.

In other business, the council also:

•passed a vote allowing the Kimberly Police Department to acquire new graphics for its vehicles for a price not to exceed $1,500.

•passed a vote to pay an annual bill for the fire department’s radio software.

•tabled a vote for the purchase of new tires for one of Kimberly’s police trucks.

Kimberly’s next council meeting will be March 11 at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.

Erik Harris is the sports editor for The North Jefferson News. He can be reached at

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