Officials OK with $10M police facility

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other_tupelo_policeBy Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo’s plan for a proposed police headquarters achieved dual goals of costing taxpayers $10 million or less and likely meeting city needs for two decades.

Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre and architect Will Lewis of JBHM Architects shared the most recent version for what could turn into city law enforcement’s new home, leading to the next phase of creating schematic designs and then advertising the project for bids in four months.

“We’re comfortable with the programming we’ve developed and that we’ve stayed under $10 million,” Lewis said during a City Council work session Tuesday.

This most recent price tag for the project could end a roller coaster of estimated costs that began with $8.9 million in February, then to $10.1 million and reached $11 million all within a month.

Mayor Jason Shelton has said for more than a month he expected costs not to exceed $10 million and felt comfortable with proceeding with current plans.

“It’s under $10 million and adequately meets all of the current needs and projected growth for the future,” Shelton said.

The new plan at 38,150 square feet actually includes more square-footage than all previous versions made public, which doesn’t include the draft document estimating costs at up to $11 million.

Police Chief Bart Aguirre said earlier Tuesday he didn’t think the new plan would match projected city needs two decades away but changed his mind after meeting with Lewis before the presentation to elected officials.

“We’ve constantly added things,” Aguirre said after answering questions from the council. “It has some frills in it but not as much as earlier plans.”

To trim costs, architects cut a kitchenette from a community room and shrunk space for the locker room areas and replaced enclosed office space for lower-ranking officers with partitioned cubicles. However, the new plan adds a gun-cleaning area and areas for fingerprinting and evidence collection.

Funding for the new facility will likely come from a combination of issuing bonds and $1.5 million from asset forfeiture acquired from a partnership with federal and state authorities in a multiyear contraband cigarette sting. The operation also resulted in Tupelo gaining four acres of land where the new two-story facility will locate.

Altogether, Tupelo has $5.3 million currently available for the police facility.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com