Garner moves forward on multi-million dollar project designs

kjahner@newsobserver.comNovember 30, 2013 

— One architect is nearing a final floor plan for a new $4.5 million police station while another begins conceptual planning for a $7.8 million, three-gym recreation center.

The week before the holiday-shortened Thanksgiving week saw meetings centering on the two bond-funded projects.

The police station, slated for funding by the first round of bond spending over the next year or so, will give Garner police a single station with amenities it currently lacks. Aside from adding efficiency by bringing staff from three separate buildings together under one roof at 912 Seventh Ave., the station will have an additional training facility, a separate entrance for the public and secure parking for police.

“The biggest thing is being under one roof,” Chief Brandon Zuidema said.

Evidence, much of it currently crammed into limited spaces at the Town Hall portion of the police space, will be stored more “appropriately,” Zuidema said. The separate entrance – via a secured parking lot – means that police will take suspects into the station through a different point than the public entrance, allowing the public more comfortable access and suspect’s privacy.

Current facilities do not have a training room, and one in the new station complements the emphasis on physical fitness Zuidema has stressed since he became chief in 2009.

Zuidema credited ADW – the architectural firm designing the building – with creatively finding ways to tinker with original plans to get a slightly high initial estimate back down to the original $4.5 million budgeted without sacrificing anything significant.

“I’ve tried to stay fairly directly involved. You only get to do this as a chief probably once in a career,” Zuidema said of being able to shape a building to be used by police for decades. “We want to make sure we are responsible to the council’s wishes on the budget and to the taxpayer. We appreciate that it’s a lot of money to spend, and we appreciate the public support on the bond.”

At the Monday meeting, design choices were also made regarding the building’s future façade. The building was a medical office building that the town bought for just over $900,000, or about a third of its assessed value, in 2012.

A ‘visioning exercise’

The recreation center was moved from the first round of borrowing to the second, but planning on the facilities has begun. Clark Nexsen, the consultants putting together conceptual plans, had a series of questions for various stakeholders during a series of recent meetings.

The parks and rec advisory committee, senior advisory committee, programming partners such as Garner Baseball and Garner Flames, the town council and the public have been sought out for input, according to Parks and Recreation Director Sonya Shaw.

“All of this is part of what we call a visioning exercise,” Shaw said. “We will never be able to afford everything the public wants, but this gives us an idea of what the public wants.”

Shaw said most want to see a facility that can be used by everyone, from pre-schoolers to senior citizens. Other requests Shaw heard include adequate parking, plenty of gym space and multi-purpose space, sidewalk connectivity to make it bike/walk accessible, public art and outdoor bench areas.

There are few certainties, other than the center’s location at Montague and Main streets and that it will have “at least two gymnasiums, hopefully three” as well as other multi-purpose spaces, Shaw said.

The facility has just over $7 million in secured funding through the bond, a ConAgra gift and some grants, and there are still hopes for more grant funding.

While the bond program isn’t expected to borrow the money for the gym until 2015, Shaw noted that $3 million in funding is already in the bank, so efforts can get started.

After conceptual design – for which Shaw didn’t have a time frame estimate – construction design would take 9-12 months and construction about a year. Estimates could vary depending on permit processes and the degree of difficulty in preparing the site.

 

Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland

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