St. Pete City Council members unanimously approved $2.7 million to fund pre-construction services for a new police headquarters.
Money from the Public Safety Capital Improvement Fund for the police facility project includes money for Ajax Building Corp. for pre-construction and construction phase services, an amended architect and engineering agreement with Harvard Jolly and other miscellaneous costs.
The expenditure is part of an overall $70 million appropriation for the entire project.
Council members voiced concerns about spending too much on the project, but still acknowledged its necessity.
“What is the difference between a $50 million police station and a $70 million police station?” council member Jim Kennedy asked.
Public Works Administrator Mike Connors explained that both scenarios were evaluated and found that a $50 million budget would mean the building on the west side of the current facility would have to be reused. He said that building is outdated and reusing it would not be cost effective over the long run.
The original appropriation of $50 million would have included a two-phase project and would have cost the city an extra $15 million. And city staff was also quick to point out just because they have $70 million to spend doesn’t necessarily mean they will spend it all.
“We know that there’s specific needs, and we’re going to manage the dollars,” said city architect Raul Quintana. “I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be.”
The city has long been putting “Band-Aids” on the aging police headquarters, as St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman has described it. There are ventilation problems in the shooting range provided to officers and issues with safety, including possible ricochet problems.
Replacement has long been on the city’s radar as a result of many of those problems.
Construction is expected to begin in Spring of 2017 with completion sometime the following fall.
Council chair Charlie Gerdes asked staff if there was any way to expedite the process.
“I don’t want a comfortable schedule,” Gerdes said. “I want the most aggressive schedule possible.”
The new police station is expected to include windows capable of withstanding Category 4 hurricane-strength winds and updated technology and energy efficiencies.
The current station has three buildings. A small building was built in 1928. The other two main buildings are 30 and 50 years old each.
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