Members of the greater bond community openly expressed their disapproval of the relocation of the Tallahassee Police Department headquarters to the south side’s Town South Shopping Plaza during a town hall meeting in February.
Instead, residents asked to see projects in the plaza that would bring economic growth to the community.
While the proposal to have the facility in the shopping center was dismissed, the idea of the headquarters being placed near the south side of Tallahassee is still in the air.
During a city commission meeting on March 6, Assistant City Manager, Wayne Tedders, revealed that the city is now considering new locations across the city, that could still include other areas in Tallahassee’s southside.
While a site has not yet been chosen, a priority area of about 2 miles away from the city’s center is the city’s recommended area to have “police department in the greatest part of the city”. This area centers around the intersection of West Tennessee Street and Monroe Street.
“It fits nicely in the center part of our city,” added Tedders.
Tallahassee City Manager, Reese Goad, said that the selection of the new site process should “be open to all properties and involve public input.”
The planning team for the new project will compile a list of prospective sites in various parts of Tallahassee. Before selecting a final site, a consultant will conduct community interviews in each of the areas of the proposed sites. “The consultant will try to create a concept that will incorporate the needs and concerns of those different communities”, said Tedders. This process is expected to take 45 days for each prospective site.
However, Chair of the Greater Bond Neighborhood Safety and Crime Prevention Committee, Jacquelyn Perkins believes that the south side is in great need of a police station in the area.
“It is regrettable that a project with so much promise was dismantled due to misinformation. Somehow the narrative moved from the purpose and benefits of the project to the intense feeling of a group of people, most of whom do not live on the south side and will probably not be living here in the next three to five years,” Perkins said.
She urges the city to “please reconsider a south side location.”
Darwin Gamble, a resident of Tallahassee, expressed that the city should make it a priority to have the new site on city owned property. If the facility is built on city land, it would aid with the acquisition cost and avert the problem of having to negotiate with a property owner.
“Some city properties may be better suitable outside of that two-mile radius. So, I hope that it is more flexible than it appears to be,” added Gamble.
Perkins suggested that the city look into the old sewer plant on Lake Bradford and Gamble. With the property being owned by the city, the acquisition cost is zero. Therefore, the city saves money.
“This location allows the Tallahassee Police Department to serve areas on the border of neighborhoods that have historically high levels of calls for service”, said Perkins. Perkins labels these areas as “hot spots.”
In agreement with this idea, City Commissioner, Curtis Richardson notes that this area is also in need of a fire department facility. Richardson added that while this area has the reported number of the highest amounts of service calls, it has the longest response time. “The houses there are wood frame and easily catch fire.”
Curtis believes that the city should look into collocating both the police headquarters and a fire department in this area.
The city has hired a construction manager but has not yet found an engineer or architect for the project, but the expected size of the facility is nine acres.
The city plans to select a design and purchase a site by the end of 2019. The expectations are to move into the new facility by the year 2023.