PALMETTO -- The city of Palmetto has a goal to break ground in 2015 on a new $15 million police station to replace the rundown station at 1115 10th St. W.
The station built in the 1960s has a failing roof and is too small to house all personnel, said Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells.
"It's no longer a want. It's a need," Mayor Shirley Groover-Bryant said at Monday commission meeting attended by a handful of people at City Hall.
The new building will be built from an existing architectural design to save money.
"I would like to see it put to bed before the next hurricane season, which is six months away," Commissioner Brian Williams said, indicating he wants approval for the project by June.
Palmetto officials are excited to see if their unique plan for paying for the building will really work.
Director Jeff Burton of Palmetto's Community Redevelopment Agency reaffirmed grants are available if Palmetto builds the station on land considered "slum and blight," which includes property it already owns in the 400 block of 10th Street.
"We can earn grant money if we displace slum and
blight," Burton said. "That area also has the highest crime rate in the city so it's a good place to put a police station."
The land is now a vacant parking lot right across from the Taylor & Fulton packing plant between Fourth and Fifth avenues on the north side of 10th Street, Burton said.
The city would offer project developers the land in return for a commitment to pay for and build a two-story building with a hurricane-proof second floor, Burton said.
"We might have the only police station in the state that pays taxes back to the city," Burton said.
The developer would be obligated to let the Palmetto Police Department lease the building for 30 or so years, Burton said.
"The beauty of this public-private partnership is that the developer builds the building for us, pays taxes to us, insures the building, keeps it clean, keeps it running and houses our police department," Williams said. "What the developer gets in return is a guaranteed 30-year tenant. They set the lease rate. It's a very low-risk deal for the developer and, as I see it, a good way to make a good return on their investment."
In other action, Palmetto City Commission wants feedback from residents on how the city is being run through suggestions cards at the Palmetto booth at the Manatee County Fair, which starts Thursday.
"I would especially like to see comments on stop signs and movement of traffic," said Commissioner Tambra Varnadore.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.