Archive for Tuesday, July 30, 2013

City to begin searching for sites for potential multimillion dollar police headquarters

July 30, 2013


City officials don't yet have a plan to pay for a multimillion dollar police headquarters, but they may have a site for such a facility by the end of the year.

City Manager David Corliss said he, the police chief and other city officials are scheduled to begin touring potential sites in the next several weeks. The city has $1.5 million set aside in its 2014 budget for site and architectural services related to a long-talked-about police headquarters.

"We hope to solidify a location, and perhaps have some architectural renderings created," Corliss said of his goals for the $1.5 million in funding.

But the city won't wait until 2014 to get the process started. Corliss said he thinks it is likely that his office will deliver a site recommendation to commissioners by the end of this year.

City may sell West Lawrence tract

Don't look for a seven-acre tract that the city already owns in West Lawrence to be a leading contender for the headquarters.

Corliss said that land, near the southeast corner of the future interchange of the South Lawrence Trafficway and Bob Billings Parkway, will be studied, but is unlikely to meet the criteria.

"It really is not large enough and it is not centrally located," Corliss said.

The city has owned the property since the 1990s, when it decided to purchase vacant ground to get ahead of the city's westward growth. Possible uses mentioned at the time were for a police substation, a fire station or maybe a small park.

Corliss said he is likely to ask commissioners to consider selling the property in the future.

"Once that interchange is completed, the property will be at its highest value," Corliss said.

Corliss said commissioners always could decide to keep the property for future uses, but he said he does not see any recommended city use for the property in the immediate future.

City Commissioner Terry Riordan said that sounds good to him.

"I think the sooner the better," Riordan said. "I think by moving ahead with the site process, it would be a visible sign that we really mean what we say about the Police Department's needs."

The department currently has a large portion of its force split between two facilities — the joint city-county Judicial and Law Enforcement Center at 11th and Massachusetts and the Investigations & Training Center near Bob Billings and Wakarusa Drive. The department also has several other smaller facilities, such as a parking control office and an evidence storage building, scattered throughout town.

Commissioners have had budget discussions about building a new headquarters, but the potential price of the project has made a politically palatable funding plan difficult to find. Last year staff members estimated it would require anywhere from a 0.25 percent to a 0.35 percent sales tax to fund a new $24 million police headquarters facility and additional staffing. City officials at other times have studied various property tax increase plans to fund a facility.

Corliss said finding a site before agreeing to a funding plan for the entire facility may be helpful because a specific site will help the city further refine costs.

He said the city ideally will be looking for a site from 10 to 13 acres in size.

"We want to have adequate parking, adequate storage and some ability to grow," Corliss said. "You obviously could grow a building up, but sometimes it is less expensive to grow on a site that has more acreage."

Corliss said other factors to consider will be a central location that has easy access to key facilities such as the county jail, district and municipal courts and City Hall.

Both Corliss and Riordan said they would like to have more conversations with Douglas County about a joint facility that could house both the police and sheriff's departments. But both also conceded the logistics of such a center may be difficult. Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern previously has said he would be concerned about moving his department's offices away from the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center because the Sheriff's Department is responsible for providing court security.

Whether the existing judicial center grounds and parking lot could be redeveloped to accommodate a larger joint facility is questionable, Riordan said.

"I think it would be ideal to have more communication with the county," Riordan said. "But it may be a very tricky thing to combine the two. If we can do it, great, but if we can't, we still need to move ahead to address our Police Department's needs."


kansasredlegs 4 years, 10 months ago

Commissioner Riordan, the LJWorld's go-to commish for his expert knowledge of the police department needs. Needs? More like wants, nice-to-haves, but definitely not needs. Remember new guy, better to look like a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

Go back and research why Olin wanted the western site and then-manager Wildgen's explanations for telling the Commish why it should be split. Now, Corliss & Co. are saying we need one centrally located building. The only thing Corliss is definitely sure of, is his insatiable taste for big ticket, tax and spend policies.

btw: Chad, did Corliss ever provide evidence of the federal reimbursement for the police officers who raked in more than Chief Khatib last year? If not, why does your paper never seem to follow up with what Coriiss tells the public to obtain what he "needs?" Why does it seem there is never any follow up from the LJW?

Robert Schehrer 4 years, 10 months ago

kansasredlegs: You are right on. The City sold this story that it was so important to split the police department when they wanted to buy the west Lawrence location. Now it's a different story. What ever sounds like it will sell to the public is what they say. They also spent millions remodeling that building. Do they plan to sell it or will they come up with another idea as to why they should keep it and move some other departments into it.

Keith 4 years, 10 months ago

"We want to have adequate parking, adequate storage and some ability to grow," Corliss said. "You obviously could grow a building up, but sometimes it is less expensive to grow on a site that has more acreage."

You obviously could grow the current building up.

patkindle 4 years, 10 months ago

small price to pay for crime fighting lets all write a check so they can build it it is only money and it is all about the ?????

Janet Lowther 4 years, 10 months ago

I am far from convinced the Lawrence police need a new headquarters costing tens of millions of dollars.

50YearResident 4 years, 10 months ago

If they put this over on the taxpayers without a vote, they could build it on the contaminated ground that they already own. Remember the Farmland Property? Plenty of acreage and close to the Jail and Community Shelter. Then they won't have to buy another 1 1/2 million dollar property. Unless one of their buddies just happens to have 15 acres that want to sell at a brother-in-law bonus price of 1.5 million..

joes_donuts 4 years, 10 months ago

Let's see... $1.5 Million for 10 to 12 acres (plus architectural fees) in the middle of the city...

Did they legalize marijuana in Lawrence recently?

The lot the Marriott is being built on downtown was purchased for around $650,000 and that is about a half acre. With $1.5 million, they will be lucky to find 3 acres in the middle of the city and that doesn't include architectural fees. Join the 2000's Corliss. Anyone smell some more back door REC center type dealings coming?

JayhawkFan1985 4 years, 10 months ago

If the city values downtown as it claims, then it should locate public facilities such as this...DOWNTOWN. Why not relocate the electrical substation at the NW corner of 6th Street and Vermont and put it there? After the new library is finished, why not put it in the former Borders Books building?

JayhawkFan1985 4 years, 10 months ago

I also love the way our city manager expresses support for urban sprawl in the site selection. We need a new top dog in city hall...

In_God_we_trust 4 years, 10 months ago

It looks like Lawrence is headed down the same path as Detroit and it's bankruptcy.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 10 months ago

Most smaller cities in the US that has declared bankruptcy has been due to a large public works project that either did not pay for itself in growth or went over budget..

irvan moore 4 years, 10 months ago

buy the riverfront mall, it's the most obvious location to put city services

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 10 months ago

In the real estate 'real world' buyers are required to have pre-approval- a form that proves you have the financing to purchase the property you are seeking to buy. In this case I think that would be a good start for the city as from my reading of the article it appears we not only don't have the money, but also don't quite know how we're going to get it.

nick_s 4 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. It sounds like we're using the ol' Rec Center approach & tipping our hand as to what we're willing to spend, then find someone who is "generous" enough to practically "give" us a great property that will fit snugly right into that little budget. The more I pay attention, the more backwards this town seems.

skinny 4 years, 10 months ago

If the City has the money to build the New Police Dept without raising taxes I am all for it. If the City does not have the funds to build the new Police Dept, then they need to wait until they do or wait until something else is paid for. Simple math!!

No more raising taxes for stuff we don't need! Buses and Recreation Center!!

anotherview 4 years, 10 months ago

Here's what get old. Years ago when City Hall was located in the old Watkins Building, we were told that the city could save money by moving to a new location because that builiding had bad windows which made the utilities expensive. So, they moved to the then First National Bank, later to the current City Hall. Guess what, the taxpayers are still paying for the cost of operating that building which now houses the Douglas County Historial Society.

Same kind of story when we moved the library from the Carnegie Building to its new location. But, it was OK for the arts center for a little while. Well, we are now paying for the operating costs of another library building, a new arts center and continue to pay for the Carnegie Building. Is there ever a thought of just disposing of any of these old buildings

jimmyjms 4 years, 10 months ago

The city has not made a persuasive argument that this is actually needed.

nick_s 4 years, 10 months ago

Does that really matter to them? We elected them, therefore they are the experts, judge, & jury. Doesnt really matter what anyone thinks since they "won" in the abismal elections here in Lawrence. Remember, that gives them free reign to tell us all what is right & wrong, wise & foolish.

Bursting 4 years, 10 months ago

I wish I didn't feel this way, but in my opinion, the crime rate almost surely go up if a new police department is built. If the city could convince me that a drastic reduction in crime would happen, then I would feel differently.

pizzapete 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure that makes any sense. What makes you think more police and a better facility will cause an increase in crime?

pizzapete 4 years, 10 months ago

Raising taxes, it's the solution to all our problems both private and public. How many "special" tax districts and property tax abatements has the city given to developers in the last 10 years? And more importantly, how much tax revenue has the city failed to collect because of the abatements? How much sales tax revenue is going directly into the pockets of wealthy developers instead of paying for city services? More apartments, hotels, recreation centers, etc., require more police and other city services, why are we homeowners and consumers always stuck with the bill while wealthy developers get the reduced or "special" rate?

Jonathan Fox 4 years, 10 months ago

I find this ridiculous, raise taxes for this, raise taxes for that. Even when the state lowers sales taxes the city increases their sales tax to match to pay for something else. How about a tax cut? Lawrence has almost the highest sales tax in the state already. Property taxes are going up again just for this years budget. We keep raising taxes for these special projects but taxes never come back down. It doesn't have to be this way.

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