Sikeston city officials to get price of building new police headquarters
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
SIKESTON, Mo. -- City officials will soon get a firm price on what it would cost for a new Sikeston Department of Public Safety headquarters.
After about a year of fine-tuning, city officials are expecting to receive building plans from the Dille and Traxel architectural firm in Poplar Bluff, Mo., by the end of the month.
Bid packets for contractors will then go out next month and be due back in early March, according to city manager Doug Friend.
"We've been talking about the need for a new police headquarters for many, many years," Friend said.
Department director Drew Juden said discussions about a new headquarters have always been hampered by fluctuating construction costs. With bids in hand, city council members will soon be able to consider the issue knowing what the cost would actually be.
City officials were encouraged by the bids submitted for the construction of the Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities' new office building.
"We're hoping to get a fair, competitive bid," Juden said.
The building would be southeast of the new utilities offices on the lot where the old First Baptist Church was on the corner of Kingshighway and Trotter Street.
The plans call for the headquarters to face east toward Kingshighway with secure parking for the department immediately west, behind the utility building. As the lots for the new utility offices and the proposed department headquarters are adjacent, the far southeast corner of the utility's parking lot would be convenient for citizens visiting the department building, officials noted.
Like the utility building under construction, plans for the department building call for "an old downtown appearance," Friend said. As the same architectural firm was used for both buildings, the buildings would complement each other.
City officials have a list of reasons why a new police headquarters is needed with adequate work space and storage being the foremost.
"Our biggest problem is just sheer space," Juden said.
During regular business hours, the Department of Public Safety has 35 to 40 employees sharing 15,000 square feet with the department records and holding facility.
"We've got file cabinets and files stored in hallways," Juden said. "We don't have a square inch that isn't filled up with personnel or storage."
"They don't even have the room to hold a staff meeting," Mayor Jerry Pullen noted.
Staff meetings are now either held at the Clinton Community Building or in the bay of a fire station.
"It's hard to have a discussion in that type of environment," he said.
Cramped quarters are especially problematic when the major case squad has to be activated or when the department is coordinating with other law enforcement agencies.
The proposed two-story facility with a basement would be about 35,000 square feet -- just a bit bigger than the utilities building now under construction.
This would provide enough space for "not only immediate needs but future needs of the Department of Public Safety," Friend said. Plans are to leave the department's proposed building's basement unfinished for the time being, providing storage as well as room for future growth.
Juden noted that unlike the utility's building, "we have to have a secure facility."
The plans include layered security including a holding facility for 10 males and five females. The current holding facility only holds three females and six to eight males.
"It will still be a holding facility, not a jail," Juden noted.
Officials explained having a city jail included would be extremely costly for both construction, as there are strict requirements mandated by federal authorities for jails, and for ongoing expenses.
"The biggest cost with a jail is personnel," Juden explained. Operating a city jail would mean adding an additional 15 to 20 employees.
Liability issues related to operating a jail are also a concern.
"Our lawsuits would triple," he said. "Not that we would be doing anything wrong, it's just the nature of the beast."
From a city budget standpoint, a new Department of Public Safety facility would save the city money in the long run as remaining in the current facility has regularly required "very expensive repair costs," Friend said.
"This building is just so old it's just an absolute nightmare when it comes to repairs," Juden said.
"It started as the Post Office in the '30s," he recalled. Juden said when he joined the force in 1978, the current headquarters building had city hall offices on the main floor, city courts on the second floor and the police department in the basement.
Adding on to and retrofitting the current building just isn't feasible, according to city officials. With no empty lots adjacent to the current headquarters, there isn't room for additions there without getting rid of what little parking DPS does have. Juden said parking is already a problem for the department now without eliminating any spaces.
A new building would meet seismic building codes, have a fire sprinkler system and would include backup generators which power the entire facility during power outages.
The current facility isn't likely to survive any significant earthquake, has no sprinkler system and only has backup power generators for radio communications.
Pullen described the current department headquarters as "embarrassing for a city this size."
"We've reached a point where we've got to do something different," he said.
Friend said anyone interested in touring the current department headquarters is encouraged to contact the department to arrange a time.