As Monroe begins planning a new police facility, city officials will be taking a look at one existing building to determine if that could be re-purposed.
City Council on Monday approved an emergency resolution for a $25,300 contract with KZF Design Inc. for professional architectural services to determine if the former IGA grocery store at 601 S. Main St. could be re-purposed into the city’s new police facility.
The city’s current facility at 233 S. Main St. is on the lower level of the Monroe City Building, but the police department has outgrown building.
In 2016, the city commissioned KZF to do a police facility study to determine current and future needs for the department and the community. Last February, KZF presented council several options to consider, which included renovating the current facility as well as building a new facility.
Those and other safety and public infrastructure needs were presented to the community in November as a 0.50-percent earnings tax increase to raise funds for this and other projects. Voters approved the tax increase, which went into effect Jan. 1.
City Manager Bill Brock told council that the former IGA grocery would need to have a structural engineering analysis to assess the building’s integrity as well as to determine the potential costs of a major renovation to convert it to a police station.
Brock said any critical use buildings, such as a police facility, would also need to be hardened structurally.
When Mayor Robert Routson asked if the building would be for sale or lease, Brock said that would be up to council and added his recommendation would be to purchase.
Brock also said the feasibility study would be part of the city’s due diligence before acquiring the property.
According the proposed timeline in the contract, it could take more than two months to do the study and present the findings back to council.
Once the police facility is addressed, the city is expected to expand its administrative offices into the current police space on the lower level.
The city’s police department headquarters was built in 1999 to house 18 police staffers. The building is now home to 40 employees, according to Police Chief Bob Buchanan. He said the department is using one of the building’s two interview rooms as storage space after expanding its dispatch center.
Another issue is that the current police headquarters at the city building is land locked and parking is scarce, according to officials.