Aldermen continue to discuss PD, FD consolidation
Published 7:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2016
Poplarville city officials will meet with a civil engineer in two weeks to discuss how it’s possible to modify the city’s fire department building and lot on South Main Street to allow the police department to share the space.
The Board of Aldermen on Tuesday walked through both buildings and talked with Fire Chief Jonathan Head and Police Chief Butch Raby about their plan for what they’d like to see in a joint facility.
The city has been looking at combining the two first-responder agencies into the newer fire department quarters at 1390 S. Main St. and sell the police building, a former Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall, at 305 Hwy. 26 East.
Making changes and fulfilling the chiefs’ requests will require working in stages, and first the Board needs to review its options, Alderman Maggie Smith said Wednesday.
“This is going to be a rather large project,” Smith said.
The initial issue is parking, both Smith and Alderman Byron Wells said. The fire station, which began construction in 2009, is on sloping land that presents challenges.
The Aldermen hope to find out from the engineer, Jason Lamb of Walker & Associates in Hattiesburg, what can be done to create a joint working environment in the building, which was built for about $1.5 million.
Smith said she wants to know “if there is a relatively flat area that can, with a minimal amount of bulldozer work, create a space for employees to park in.”
Wells said the building must have a secure entrance beyond a reception area, and some of the space inside the building needs to be reconfigured to allow police rooms to store evidence and talk to witnesses and suspects.
“We can get [the police] into the building without doing a lot of additional work,” Wells said.
Smith said she’d eventually like to see a two-story addition on the north side of the current structure to house police operations, with its design echoing the Fire Department’s large engine bays on the southern end of the building.
“This is the dreaming and talking stage,” Smith said.
Wells said he is concerned about spending beyond the value of the police headquarters, which has been appraised at $185,000, and the estimated $10,000 per year it costs to maintain two separate buildings.
“We just don’t have additional funds to do an addition onto the station,” he said.