Tupelo council to vote on Milam property demolition

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Tupelo stockBy Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo City Council will likely vote next week whether to accept a bid to demolish a building on property considered a likely location for a new police headquarters.

When the city of Tupelo officially received the deed to property at Franklin and Front streets in June, city leaders said the location would serve as the location for a new police headquarters.

New Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre has met with architects about the site, a one-time location for Milam Manufacturing, and has said a new police headquarters is a top priority for him.

Don Lewis, chief operations officer for the city, said Friday the City Council will likely vote on the accepting bids for the razing the current building on the property and could vote to award the contract for the project along with a timeline for it.

The FBI deeded the property to the city of Tupelo on the condition that it be used by the police department. The property came to the city through participation in a six-year investigation that included the FBI and area U.S. Attorney’s and the U.S. Marshal’s offices related to a scheme to store cigarettes on the property to avoid paying taxes.

Without giving specifics, Lewis said he anticipated removal of the current building on the property in early 2014.

The city already set aside $3.75 million for a new police headquarters during Mayor Ed Neelly’s administration.

City leaders haven’t made official announcements on details for the project since Mayor Jason Shelton took office in July and appointed Aguirre police chief in October.

“Hopefully we’ll start discussions and figure out what our next move is,” Lewis said. “It’s a long-awaited move for sure.”

While Tupelo police look at the property as a new home, Mayor Shelton and Lee County officials have made public a willingness to discuss a possible shared facility between the police and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com