City police department upgrade may begin next spring

Published 11:18 am Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Star Photo/Kayla Carter The Ritchie's Warehouse building was purchased for renovation to bring various Elizabethton Police departments together.

Star Photo/Kayla Carter
The Ritchie’s Warehouse building was purchased for renovation to bring various Elizabethton Police departments together.

City officials may feel more confident about voting to allow Reedy & Sykes to go ahead with architectural renderings of improved public safety facilities after an Elizabethton City Council workshop meeting Tuesday.

City Manager Jerome Kitchens began the meeting by giving a brief overview of the project to date.

The original idea was to build another facility from scratch.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“That looked like too much to chew on,” Kitchens said. “I was more interested in putting the investment into downtown. We wanted to keep them close to city hall and the fire department.”

The current plans include constructing a two-floor building in the parking lot between the Ritchie’s Warehouse building and the existing police department.

The top floor of the two-story structure will serve as a space for future growth.

“This will pretty much solve all of their problems today and for the next 20 years,” Kitchens said. “We went from a single story to a two-story so we could create some extra space for growth.”

The original cost estimate was $2,781,430 and now the cost estimate is coming in at $2,980,610. This cost includes renovation of the current police department ($407,000), renovation of Ritchie’s ($1,149,460), new construction ($713,450), site work ($100,000), 5 percent contingency ($118,000), architect and engineering fee ($149,304), moveable equipment ($100,000) and administration/miscellaneous costs ($38,000). The $204,000price tag for the purchase of Ritchie’s Warehouse was approved during the September City Council meeting.

The purchase of the Ritchie’s Warehouse building, an in lieu of tax payment and $200,000 budgeted for the police department allows the city to move forward with the project without raising taxes, Kitchens said.

“That $200,000 will cover the debt service for a 20-year note at 4 percent,” Kitchens said. “We are actually able to go ahead without any kind of increase to start construction.”

In his research, Kitchens has found that the best time to send out bids on construction is in the winter. Approval of Reedy & Sykes to move forward would set the city up for selecting bids in December or January.

A reduction in debt service would also propel the project to start earlier than the original 2017 construction date. Kitchens would like to see construction start in the spring of next year.

As of right now, the next step is to approve Reedy & Sykes to move forward with creating plans for construction crews to have a better idea of what to bid for the project.

City Council is expected to vote on taking the next step at the August City Council meeting set for 6 p.m. on Aug. 13.