New police station subject of meeting

Published 5:19 pm Thursday, January 6, 2011

Contributing Editor

Washington residents have an opportunity today to weigh in on the city’s plan to build a new police station near the city-owned Warren Field Airport.
A community meeting on the proposal begins at 7 p.m. at the building that houses the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service and other agriculture-related offices, located at 155 Airport Road. The agricultural-center complex is just east of the airport.
The city plans to build the new police station on the southwest corner of the intersection of Airport Road and North Market Street Extension. The city owns the land proposed to be chosen as the site for the new police station.
“We just hope to get some feedback from the community regarding the police station construction. We’d like to hear from the citizens about the new facility,” said Bianca Gentile, a spokeswoman for the city, on Wednesday.
In June 2010, the Washington City Council voted to pursue a $3 million loan to help pay for the new facility, with an estimated cost of about $4 million.
The city has $1 million set aside in its public-safety capital reserve fund to help pay for the project. The city’s property-tax rate includes 2 cents per $100 valuation that’s earmarked to provide revenue for the city’s public-safety capital reserve fund, used to help pay for items such as new public-safety buildings and equipment. That earmark was set in place in 2002.
The project is no stranger to controversy.
Late last year, some council members expressed concerns about the proposed layout of the facility on the city-owned land. During a council meeting in November 2010, Councilman Doug Mercer said he was perturbed the council had not been “kept in the loop” concerning developments, including how the new station would be situated on the land.
“I, too, have reservations about the shape of the property,” said Councilman Gil Davis.
An early recommendation to build the new police station on part of the former P.S. Jones High School site off Bridge Street was shelved after it ran into opposition from residents in that area. After that opposition was made public, the city formed a committee to search for and recommend possible sites for the new police station.
Eventually, that panel recommended four sites, including the site next to the airport. The other three recommended sites were the baseball fields on West Third Street, near its intersection with Plymouth Street; the Herbert Perry Sr. property at John Small Avenue and Hodges Street; and part of the Beaufort County Developmental Center property on West Fifth Street.