Sunday, April 08, 2007

Arrest, Judgement and Repentance?

For a map of this location, see here.

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

The Mayor and City Council will introduce a resolution at the April 9, 2007 meeting that will authorize the Mayor to proceed with negotiations and financing to purchase First Baptist Church, located at 811 Fifth Street, for the purpose of relocating the Laurel Police Department. Mayor Moe is asking that public hearings be held on this purchase on April 9, April 16, and on April 23, 2007. Approval of the purchase could occur at the April 23, 2007 meeting.

Mayor Moe advised that the only response to the City’s November 27, 2006 announcement seeking proposals from the development community to provide the City with a new police facility of at least 25,000 square feet was received from Ms. Barbara Maher, legal counsel representing the Contract Purchasers of First Baptist Church. The Contract Purchasers were seeking to partner with the City for the entire First Baptist Church Fifth Street holdings, which include the church structure and adjoining school, its parking lots, apartments located at Fifth Street and Gorman Avenue, and other Fifth Street properties directly across from the church. In this arrangement, the City would purchase the church structure and the adjacent north and south parking lots for renovation to become a police station. The Contract Purchasers have revitalization development plans for the remaining portions of the property.

Mayor Moe stated that identifying property that would be suitable for a police department has long been the challenge in the goal to provide a new facility. He stated that First Baptist Church is more centrally located and it is expected that the size of the facility will accommodate growth of the department for the next 15 to 20 years or longer. The church property is also very conducive to accommodating the current Police Department outreach programs, i.e. PAL, Citizens Police Academy and its Alumni Association, Police Explorers, Police Auxiliary, and the Department’s efforts for future expansion of outreach programs.

Mayor Moe stated the purchase price for the City’s portion of the property is $2.5 million. It is estimated that an additional $3 million will be needed for renovations. There is still much work to be done in building design and construction, if the purchase is approved. It is anticipated that it will be eighteen months to two years from purchase to completion of construction before the Police Department will be fully operational at the Fifth Street location. Mayor Moe noted that the $5.5 million for purchase and renovation is far less than the approximately $7 million presented in the City’s Capital Improvements Program.

Mayor Moe explained that time is of the essence if this opportunity is to move forward. His office and staff have done an exhaustive four-month review to determine the viability and suitability of this property for use as a police station. He noted that the City has an excellent track record with the adaptive reuse of older structures, adding that the existing police station was originally built for use as a grocery store. He further noted that the Municipal Center is a former junior high school, and that the Department of Parks and Recreation had been headquartered in the Anderson-Murphy Armory Community Center before relocating to the Municipal Center.

Mayor Moe shared that he is looking forward to public input and participation in the consideration of this purchase. He added that he is excited about this opportunity to provide a centrally located facility that will serve the City’s police needs and the citizens’ expectation for quality police service for many years to come. Chief David Crawford expressed his excitement at the prospect of a new, modern facility for the men and women of the Laurel Police Department in their service to the citizens and businesses of Laurel.

Persons interested in receiving a package of prior press releases on this matter, and a copy of the CIP project page, may contact the City Administrator’s Office at 301-725-5300, Ext. 203.

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