Lawrence City Commission approves spending additional $1M on $18.5M police headquarters
photo by: Hoefer Wysocki
City leaders have decided to spend another $1 million on the police department’s new headquarters in west Lawrence.
As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to spend an additional $1 million to add three more police functions at the headquarters, bringing the total project budget to $19.5 million. As originally proposed, the first phase of the project included a significant amount of “shelled” or unfinished space, but staff recommended that the city finish those spaces now rather than later to save money.
Mayor Lisa Larsen agreed with that notion and with city staff’s recommendation that unspent dollars in the police department’s budget should be used to help finish the shelled spaces now. Larsen said that funding gave the city the opportunity to finish the spaces sooner.
“I think there are some significant cost savings that we’re going to realize, and this is space we were always going to build out at some point,” Larsen said. “We’ve now got an opportunity to do that because of the funding that we have been able to come up with for it, and so I think we should move forward with it.”
City staff recommended that the commission authorize the city to finish the spaces for investigations, administration and the crime lab, which will allow those divisions to move their operations into the new headquarters building, according to a city staff memo to the commission. To cover the cost of adding those three functions now, city staff is recommending the city use $1.7 million that was budgeted for police department salaries but wasn’t spent because of vacancies.
The city estimates that finishing those spaces now will save the city at least $300,000 in future construction costs. Municipal Services & Operations Assistant Director Melinda Harger told the commission that doing the work now will save the city money because construction crews are already in place and will not have to install temporary measures, like temporary walls and HVAC and electrical adjustments, to accommodate the shelled spaces.
The original first phase plans for the headquarters would have allowed the police department to move all of its services — including its patrol, evidence and records divisions — out of the downtown building it currently shares with Douglas County, but some staff would have stayed at the department’s Investigations and Training Center in west Lawrence. The expanded plans will allow the department to also move several functions out of the Investigations and Training Center.
With the expansion, 83% to 91% of police force staff could be housed at the headquarters, depending on whether new police training was in progress, according to the memo.
The original plan called for the headquarters to be finished by November 2020. The change order indicates that finishing the shell spaces will add about a month to that timeline.