Police station update is on council’s agenda

Published 1:16 am Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Washington Police Department building is subject to flooding and has been targeted for replacement by the Washington City Council. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

Washington’s consideration of borrowing $1 million instead of $3 million to help build a new police center is raising concern from the agency that would lend the money to the city.
The City Council is expected to receive an update on the proposed police center at its meeting Monday.
A letter from the Rural Development branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture outlines that branch’s concerns with the proposed project and delays associated with it. The letter was written after the council suspended the project and informed USDA the city is looking at accepting $1 million from the USDA instead of the $3 million that USDA had obligated to the project.
“Rural Development was able to work with the City of Washington on cutbacks in project costs in the past and will strive to work with you again on this latest change in the project which is indicating you only want to borrow $1,000,000. This latest change causes us concern that there will be sufficient funds for a project that meets the needs of the City. We have always felt this to be a project that is worthy of funding since it is a much needed facility for the City of Washington,” reads the letter signed by Susan P. Christensen, an USDA area specialist with the USDA Rural Development office in Greenville.
In June, the City Council suspended the project, in part, because of funding concerns.
In suspending the project, city officials agreed to seek additional funding for the project and look at alternatives that would allow the city to build the new police station. The mayor and council made it clear they were not abandoning the project, emphasizing it would be one of the new city manager’s top priorities when he began working for the city. Joshua Kay began working as the new city manager last week. The total cost of the police station project — construction, site preparation, soil analysis, architectural/engineering fees, moving costs and other fees — comes to an estimated $4.3 million, according to figures provided to the council. The construction cost and site work cost combined come to $3.22 million. At the council’s March 8 meeting, the council decided it wants the project cost closer to $3 million rather than $4.3 million.
The council is on record as supporting allocating $3 million for the new station, with $1 million in revenue coming from the city’s public-safety reserve fund, another $1 million borrowed from USDA and $1 million from other sources, including grants.
“Based upon our review of the information provided, we do not want to delay this project beyond the constraints of our funding requirements. As you mentioned in your letter, the economic factors are not very positive at this time; however, this has proved to be a great time to bid projects. The majority of RD funded projects have been coming in significantly under budget,” reads the letter. “The scope of your project has been reduced from $5,164,000 to $3,000,000 which is a 42% reduction. We are agreeable to your latest proposal of waiting for the new City Manager in August which will allow him time to review the proposed project. We will, however, request that a revised architectural feasibility report be submitted by August 31, 2011 for our consideration.”

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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