Lawrence City Commission to consider spending another $378K on police headquarters

photo by: Hoefer Wysocki

This rendering shows the design concept for the new Lawrence Police Department headquarters in northwest Lawrence.

City leaders will soon decide whether they will spend more money to furnish three additional areas of the new police headquarters building.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider spending an extra $378,377 to add furniture and equipment to the areas for police investigations, administration and the crime lab. City staff is recommending the commission reallocate $372,000 of unused funds from the police department’s budget to pay for the expense.

The unspent money is from the purchase of new police radios — which had $1.35 million allocated in 2018, 2019 and 2020 — that cost less than expected, according to a city staff memo to the commission. The memo states that staff sought out savings opportunities when purchasing the radios without knowledge of the implications on the police headquarters project, but that the savings provide the opportunity to fund the furniture without affecting other city projects.

The city staff recommendation states that furnishing the spaces so they can be occupied will benefit the department.

“The Department has opportunities for efficiencies in operation, collaboration and education of a young staff when housed in a single location,” the memo states. “The ability to purchase the remaining furniture and equipment fulfills the intent of the City Commission when the decision to complete the shelled spaces was made.”

Finishing out the areas for investigations, administration and the crime lab were also not originally included in the budget for phase one of the headquarters, but the commission previously approved expanding the project. Specifically, the commission in November approved adding $1 million to the project’s $18.5 million budget to finish the construction of those areas, which were originally planned to be shelled spaces that would be completed in later, currently unfunded phases of the headquarters project.

The commission approved the expansion, using unspent funds in the police department’s budget, because costs for finishing the shelled spaces were estimated to be significantly higher in future years due to the need to remobilize another construction crew and to inflation, according to a cost comparison provided to the commission at the time. The comparison stated that the costs were for construction only and didn’t include FF&E — or furniture, fixtures and equipment.

The police department currently operates out of two buildings, one downtown and the other in west Lawrence. As originally planned, the headquarters was only going to allow the police department to move out of the law enforcement center downtown. If the police department is able to occupy the three additional spaces, it will allow 85% of the sworn police staff to be housed in the headquarters and “nearly all” staff to move out of the department’s investigations and training center in west Lawrence, according to the memo.

The city has paused a $750,000 maintenance project at the training center, leaving $400,000 in the project’s budget, to await the decision of the commission. Moving nearly all staff out of the center would allow the city to use the building for another purpose or sell it, according to the memo.

Spaces Inc. of Lenexa has been selected as the project’s furniture vendor. The furniture to be purchased includes lounge chairs, coffee tables, tables, workstations and other office furniture. If the commission approves the additional furniture purchase, it will bring the total furniture cost for the project to $675,426 and the total project budget to $19.9 million.

In other business, the commission will discuss changes to the bike boulevard planned for 21st Street. Last week, commissioners voted unanimously to defer funding decisions about the project until they could get more information about their options for scaling it down. The commission had been scheduled to vote on whether to waive the requirement to rebid the bike boulevard because bids came in about $69,000 more than expected.

The Lawrence City Commission will convene virtually at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. The city has asked that residents participate in the meeting virtually, if they are able to do so, using temporary meeting procedures put in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.


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