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New Police Station Should Be City Priority

Any attempt to comingle funding for the Pier and the PD Headquarters is a financial nightmare

Michael Van Sickler has a great story in Tuesday's Tampa Bay Times on the Pier vs. Police Station battle brewing in St. Petersburg. The story lays out the problems with the funding sources and the problems with an apples-to-apples comparison of the Pier and the . 

Any attempt to co-mingle funds for these projects is a financial nightmare. It is unlikely the city could keep it straight and not create a bigger controversy, if it tried. Everyone from the county on down would be screaming foul as an ox got gored.

This whole mess is just a full-blown manifestation of Mayor Bill Foster's poor leadership. Foster should have stuck with his commitment to public safety and put the Pier in proper perspective with city needs.

State Rep Rick Kriesman (D-St. Petersburg) summed it all up very clearly; "A station should take precedent over a pier."

It is really hard to understand how Foster can't seem to figure that out.

There may be another way. There is already talk about scaling back the Police Building, maybe c, eliminating a parking garage and making a few other changers that could lower the building cost.

Let's not go on the cheap, but design a practical and functional Police Headquarters that can be built for say $50 to $60 million. With $32 Million already in the Penny for Pinellas account, that would leave us a shortfall of $18 to $28 million.

Last time I checked, the city had several hundred million dollars in investments and rainy day funds. Councils have guarded these funds with great tenacity in the past and that has been a solid approach. The argument has properly been, let's not use these funds for operating expenses. And they’re right.

But this is a onetime infrastructure expense. Now may be the time to look at this funding source.

But now with the city having growing law enforcement problems, and a police facility that has been judged by  at it as unfit for the task, it may just be time to cash in what would be between 4 and 6 percent of those investments and build a functional Police Headquarters. 

That's pretty small cut of a big investment pool to provide for the most essential need in the City, Public Safety.

e-mail doc at:dr.webb@verizon.net

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Scott Bitterli April 11, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Great ideas Doc.
Jeannie Cline April 16, 2012 at 09:47 PM
There are estimates for redoing this pier at a much lower cost than the city contends. This Friday, April 20, 6 pm Jonny Reno's restaurant at the east end of the pier....there is a presentation by Ken Kroger, the architect responsible for these claims and the one with the incredible renovation and updating of this present pier. It is being presented by Vote On The Pier. com See you there! meet the architect
DJH April 23, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Is there some reason why the police station needs to be where it currently is? It seems like a terrible location and a miserable building site. Isn't a lot of the cost due to the attempt to build the new station where the old one currently stands? Does the police station have to be a new building? Isn't there a school which would be a great conversion? In any event, it seems to me it would make more sense to build the new police station on 34th Street next to the Allstate Center on the site of the former Suncoast Resort. Surely Home Depot would love to donate that land.
Doc Webb's Bay Post April 23, 2012 at 07:26 PM
DJH The current working plan is to build the new station directly across the street in what is now a parking lot. The only building that would come down for the construction is the Annex, which needs to be demolished any way. You make some very good points. There may very well be a better location. Your idea about the former Sun Coast Resort property now owned by Home Depot is a very interesting idea. Let's hope someone down at City Hall picks up on it

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