The room at the Senior Center was filled Monday with Tallahassee officials, residents and speakers for a town hall on the relocation of the city’s public safety complex.
The price tag for moving the police department headquarters to the south side is now at $60 million.
Many residents wanted to share their thoughts on the proposed project during Monday’s meeting. They made sure that their voice was heard.
“Very glad I was here tonight, there’s a lot of distortion, misinformation and I fault the City of Tallahassee for that because people are not informed. When you have a range from $60 to $100 million dollars you want to drop into a community people of color that already has trust issues with the police department, that is not kosher,” said Reuven Stanley Sims.
The Tallahassee Community Action Committee opposes the project.
According to the city commission, the relocated Tallahassee Police Department headquarters would reduce crime, bring development, create jobs, increase property values, improve community-police relations and involve sufficient community input.
Some citizens are questioning the amount of money being spent on the new TPD headquarters. Some residents mentioned some of the same concerns at the town hall. If the goal is to increase development, one resident said, the city could put that money directly into schools, food insecurity reduction, job programs, roads and sidewalks.
The city’s plan is to build the $60 million police headquarter on the south side where a local grocery store Save A Lot is located.
There are no current plans to relocate the businesses already in the plaza. Therefore, a raising concern for some south side residents is how employees who walk to work would lose their jobs if the businesses did relocate. They also shared the fact that they shop at the places located in the plaza and would have to travel a further distance if the companies were to relocate.
Marie Rattigan, a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as well as the Dream Defenders, said, “I feel as if this event went really well. Everyone got a chance to express their opinion. Personally, I feel as if there should have been a relationship built between the Tallassee Police Department and the south side before they interjected and made a conclusion on the whether or not to relocate there. If there was a relationship built prior to this it was possibly be OK.”
Rattigan, journalism major at FAMU, told the audience there needed to be community engagement between TPD and south side residents. After her canvasing she discovered that TPD should host events and get the community involved in order to improve relations.
Residents also mentioned that the south side of Tallahassee is a rent- based area. If the property values increase, the rent residents pay will rise.
Carita Evans, first vice president of the Tallahassee branch of NAACP said, “It was a good turnout. I’m still learning about the options and different statements. There was a little bit of heat but at the same time it was a lot of calm I want to know what is $60 million going to go to.”
Evans would like an itemization before the building is built. She is going to find out more information before deciding if she feels TPD should relocate to the south side.
There are approximately 191,000 people living in Tallahassee. Some south side residents are not aware of this relocation plan.
A second town hall is scheduled for 6 p.m. today at the Walker-Ford Community Center.