Friday, October 07, 2011

TOP STORY > >City services in one place

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville has moved its street department to`the old Vertac plant property off Marshall Road where a sprawling law-enforcement complex is going up.

The public safety building, plus the training grounds, cost $8.8 million. That doesn’t include what was spent to move the street department into a 40,000-square-foot metal-roofed building that was already located on the property.

In addition, $250,000 was spent completing a road to the new street department building, setting up a parking lot, putting electrical wiring for lighting, furnishing the break room for employees and enclosing about 7,000 feet of the building to house offices and a workshop with heat and air. Much of the work was done inhouse said Public Works director Jimmy Oakley.

The main advantage of the new building over the old one off Odes Street is that it is on a hill, is much larger and offers a covered area to store equipment.

“It (the old building) was smaller. We were outgrowing it,” said street department superintendent Hal Toney, adding that the old department was built in the 1970s.

The old building had several feet of water inside after the last two major floods in the area. But the new building won’t flood because of its high elevation. The floor of the building is level with some other roofs on the property.

Storing equipment undercover, protected from weather conditions, makes it last longer, said street department superintendent Hal Toney.

The old department was too small and equipment had to be left outside unprotected from the elements.

The planned break room for the new facility will be able to hold about 50 people and can be used as a training area for that many too, Oakley said.

A glance from the new street department offers a birds-eye view of where the new public safety facility will be.

The city held a groundbreaking ceremony last week for the building that will house the new police department, 911 center and safe room.

Jacksonville is spending $6 million to construct the 37,000-square-foot public-safety facility.

The construction will be funded through a $3.55 million loan—$1.2 million left over from building the training center, $650,000 federal safe room grant, $400,000 the city had set aside to move the 911 center to the training site and $350,000 the city had to build a climate-controlled evidence room for the police department.

Originally, the city had set aside $4 million to build the training grounds. The bid for construction came in at $2.8 million, leaving $1.2 million to be used on the new public safety building.

The new building will house an evidence room, 911 center, safe room and police department personnel.

The 3,000-square-foot safe room will double as training classrooms through the use of temporary room dividers.

Mayor Gary Fletcher expects construction to take about 15 months.

Some of the new tax revenue generated by the two miles along Hwy. 67/167 North recently annexed into Jacksonville will be used to cover the debt.

That revenue will also be used to install utilities.

The original bid for the construction of the new public-safety building was $6.8 million, said Director of Administration Jim Durham. The city value engineered that down to $5.7 million. Value engineering is a process in which the price of some things can be reduced.

Durham used the example of replacing a state-of-the-art generator with one that is less expensive but still suits the needs of the building.

He said cities are only allowed to value engineer the price down by 20 percent. Jacksonville value engineered $1.1 million out of the bid for the public-safety building.

That resulted in a cost of $5.7 million for the facility, he said.

Because there are unanticipated costs with any project, the city added $300,000 to its loan to cover such expenses, which results in the overall figure of $6 million for the public-safety building project, Durham explained.

The public-safety building, the training grounds and the street department are joining the city’s recycling center at 1300 Marshall Road, which opened in January 2000.

The recycling program was established in the 1990s. It generates $100,000 from the sale of 1.3 million pounds of materials, Oakley said.

The program used to receive about 1 million pounds but it’s grown since the awareness of “going green” has gone up, Oakley said.

The center is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays to accept tires, electronics, large cardboard pieces, motor oil, florescent light bulbs and antifreeze. It accepts other items 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Three employees work for the center, Oakley said. Two process materials and a third is the driver who picks up recyclables left curbside. A broker works for the city to locate the highest prices mills will pay for the unprocessed goods.