Centerville breaks ground on $2.1 million law enforcement center

chwright@macon.comApril 3, 2013 

CENTERVILLE -- Police likely will move into new digs by the beginning of 2014, according to an architect for the city’s new law enforcement center.

“The new space is going to be a whole lot more efficient,” said David Selby, of McLees, Boggs, Selby Architects. “The old building is almost dangerous.”

Centerville officers, officials from the city and around the county, architects, and builders with Parrish Construction Group held a ground breaking ceremony Wednesday at property next to City Hall that will be the location for the $2.1 million police headquarters. The project includes renovations of an old library for municipal court.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said police Chief Sidney Andrews. “We made due with our current building for years. It’s come time for us to have something new.”

Selby said construction will begin April 22.

Three million dollars was earmarked in the 2012 special purpose local option sales tax for the building. Mayor John Harley said the difference in costs will provide for a contingency fund and furnishings for the two buildings on Church Street.

An hour before golden shovels ceremoniously flipped dirt on the land, Mayor John Harley signed the final paperwork for financing and building permits.

“It’s exciting,” Harley said. “My heart’s still pounding.”

Municipal Court will move from City Hall to the old library building. The 10,000-square-foot police department will be built behind it.

It will include a covered sally port to transfer inmates to the building from the car, secured jail cells and just one ventilation system and one electrical system.

The last two items, while standard in most buildings, are vitally important to the 22 full-time officers currently housed in a 54-year-old building on North Houston Lake Boulevard. As the department has grown, two additions have been added. Each came with new, separate air ventilation and electrical systems, each with their own controls.

Built when the city was incorporated, the police station building originally included the fire department, the water department and City Hall. Those departments have since moved to new facilities, but the police department remains.

“We’ve had issues with multiple repairs, which essentially costs the taxpayers more money,” Andrews said. “We wanted a building that would be energy efficient, saving taxpayers more money.”

Harley said the city hopes to complete the project under budget. If so, the additional money will be spent on sidewalks and streets, he said.

However, the SPLOST collections must first pick up. Collections are currently 12 percent under projections. Harley said he anticipates collections will increase over the six-year sales tax.

Either way, the police building will be completed, Harley said.

“This is our No. 1,” he said.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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