With big-money projects on the city of Clinton’s horizon, there has been some discussion of how best to proceed with necessary capital expenses. Renovation and construction for the fire and police stations are needed, and one alternative — broached only in broad strokes to this point — could see those stations combined into a single entity.
Talk by city managerial staff and City Council about a preliminary 2013-2018 Capital Improvement Plan, detailing large expenditures over the next five years and beyond, turned from numerous projects to one that could serve to fulfill those needs in a single project.
Assistant manager Shawn Purvis presented a project that would see the demolition of the city-owned Caison Building and the subsequent construction of a shelter to store Public Works equipment and materials, at an approximate cost of $125,000.
That followed discussion in the CIP of the future construction of a $3.4 million Clinton Police Department, as well as fire station renovations totaling $1.5 million and a new Fire Station 2 (Beaman Street station), at $2 million. Public Works facilities renovations are also tallied at $380,000.
Councilman Steve Stefanovich inquired as to whether a consolidated project was a possibility, one that encompassed many of the departments and placing them under one roof at the site of the Caison and old Phillips Ice Cream building.
“You’re talking about tearing down the Caison building and renovating the Wall Street Fire Department and building a new police station and having more storage and renovating the Public Works facilities,” said Stefanovich. “Has there been any talk of having a building that does all this stuff on the space where the Caison building is?”
The city owns a great deal of property across John Street from the Public Works facility, including the structures lining Ferrell Street, the existing Public Works storage and the Andy’s parking lot.
“If you tear that building down, there’s a lot of space there,” said Stefanovich of the Caison Building. “It would be a lot less expensive to build one building than build 14 buildings.”
Purvis said the matter has been considered, and was to be brought up to Council. He said some preliminary options were discussed amongst city staff.
“The first one that comes to mind is a combination public safety building — fire and police,” said Purvis. “You consolidate into one building and hopefully find some savings. That’s one building and you’re not doing two buildings. Hopefully you pick up efficiencies on the operations side, and it’s cheaper to build one versus two separate (structures). That option is out there.”
Purvis said the option is not included in the CIP, but it has been discussed in generalities.
“Mr. (City manager John) Connet and I did discuss that we wanted to bring that up to (Council) as a possibility,” he noted. “That is something we’re more than willing to look into, and we would like to look at that route.”
He offered the caveat that, if a proposed police station is tallied at $3.4 million, a public safety building that also contained the fire department would obviously come with a higher price tag. However, it would probably be less than the $7 million it would take to build a $3.4 million police station coupled with the $3.5 million in construction and renovations for the two fire stations.
“Do we put small pieces together, or do we look at spending more up front, but saving more in the long run?” Purvis offered. “As we talk about finding sustainability and what the long term is, and putting these things in place, that makes sense. It’s something we’re definitely willing to look into if that’s something Council desires.”
Connet said staff has toyed around with the idea during talks with department heads.
Connet, in speaking with Fire Chief Adon Snyder, talked about using the existing fire truck bays at the fire station on Wall Street, near John Street, but razing the old fire station in favor of connecting a new joint facility to the new bays, which would take their place next to the existing ones.
“We’ve talked about redeveloping that lot, so we could put a joint police/fire headquarters there, and just attach the bays on one side,” said Connet. “That would allow us to put the bedrooms close to the bays and put the office space toward the middle. That would be good efficiency there as it relates to the police/fire headquarters.”
Connet said ideas has been “tossed around,” but nothing more than that. A combination building can definitely be examined as an alternative, he said.
“That would be our initial assessment, is to use the existing property we’ve got and maybe look at the adjoining property there that may be available, and put the police headquarters there,” said Connet, “and ultimately sell the current police headquarters.”
While public discussion regarding the fire station has mainly revolved around expanding it at its current location, a new police station has been proposed at any number of sites — further back on the current site, across the street behind the Graham Building (Planning Office) and also in the heart of downtown at the old RUS building on the corner of Railroad and Elizabeth streets.
The city owns the Andy’s parking lot, but does not own the old fire department or the railroad, which is privately owned.
Mayor Lew Starling said, if the railroad property could be obtained, the city would not only be able to extend a possible fire and police headquarters back further, but also extend Public Works from its current location back toward Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.
While a combination building could house the fire and police departments, Connet said, the Public Works would likely stay put.
“We’ve talked about it from (a police/fire) standpoint, but we’ve not talked about it containing the Public Works facility,” the city manager said, “because we felt like with some minor renovations we could extend the life of that facility.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.