Warner Robins officials have finally nailed down a location for the city's new law enforcement center.
Mayor Chuck Shaheen said late Thursday night that the site, in the 100 block of Watson Boulevard, was agreed upon by all members of City Council, but they withheld the decision from the public until they could acquire all needed parcels of land for the 5.7 acre site. The site is located less than a half-mile from the current police headquarters.
Acquisition of the land will cost the city around $700,000, with the building's construction cost projected at $5 million.
A news conference is planned for 11 a.m. Friday in front of City Hall, with a tour of the site to follow.
The Warner Robins Police Department, housed at 800 S. Young Ave., has outgrown its current building, completed in 1968. Filing cabinets and state-of-the-art machinery sit in hallways and conveniently carved out corners. In the summer, the concrete walls sweat heavily and fans occupy additional space to compensate for an outdated cooling system, putting the files and equipment at risk for damage.
The process of selecting a site for the proposed facility has been long and, at times, contentious.
City Council voted last year to build atop Jimmy Perkins Memorial Field, which is located near the current facility. That plan, however, was unpopular with some residents and included a federal caveat. Under the Land and Water Conservation Fund project, the land in question, from the Homer J. Walker Jr. Civic Center west to Maple Street off Watson Boulevard, is to be used solely for outdoor recreation purposes. In order to use that property for a new law enforcement center, a replacement property for the park would need to be found and ultimately approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The vacant FoodMax on Russell Parkway was briefly considered, with mayor and council touring the property. However, in April the council voted 4-2 against renovating that building and instead moved unanimously to further consider Perkins Field as a possible location. Property along Prince Street was also considered as an alternate location.
A 2006 SPLOST set aside $5 million for the construction of the new law enforcement center.
Information from The Telegraph archives was used in this report.