While not officially scrapped or back to square one, plans to build a new St. Petersburg Police Headquarters are taking several steps back in light of Mayor Bill Foster’s decision to not pursue .
At Thursday’s City Council meeting, the council voted to hold workshop(s) to look at new possible funding sources, including Penny for Pinellas, bonds and alternative sources for the new police station. Councilors will also discuss potential new locations for the station.
“The public appetite for a new police station is increasing daily,” said council member Bill Dudley. “There are some alternatives and (I) don’t think we have thoroughly examined all of those.”
Construction of the new police station was set up to be funded through the Penny for Pinellas. While the fund was expected to produce enough to build the new station, after the recession, only $32 million was collected.
That shortfall led to Foster scrapping the plans for that project.
At Thursday’s meeting, Foster said he is willing to look at alternatives to build a new police station. He said any new proposed plan would come in under $40 million.
“I don’t think anybody up here is going to support a $65 million project,” Foster told the council in light of current economic climates.
“We can absolutely look at Penny (for Pinellas) projects in the queue,” Foster added. “Look at sites outside of the 1st Avenue and 16th Street campus and present options that will meet the present and future needs of this police department — which will be less than $40 million.”
Council member Karl Nurse agreed. “From my prospective I’m not ready for a $64 million police headquarters but one at a price that we can afford,” he said.
The existing police station has a near endless that have been put off because of the pending construction of a new police station. The city estimates immediate maintenance needs at the station could cost $7 million.
"If we invested the $7 million to $10 million (for maintenance costs) ... and tried to renovate the buildings, all you would be doing is trying to bring them up to current code standards," said Michael McDonald with the St. Pete Police Department during a police station tour he was giving to the Council of Neighborhoods Association. "You wouldn’t be making any enhancements to the operational capability."
Major areas of concern that were shown to members of the neighborhoods association on the police station tour included:
- Toilets/plumbing on the fourth floor won't work.
- No ventilation system in evidence room.
- Lack of reinforced walls. No rebar.
- Inefficient evidence entry system.
- Cracks in Foundation
- Comm. Center radios in room only protected against rain/leaks with plywood.
- No prisoner holding area.
- Ammunition/explosives storage areas with no sprinkler system.