Public Safety Building renovation to displace police, fire departments

The renovation of the Joe Thomas Public Safety Building at the Civic Center complex will require the relocation of all police and fire department personnel and equipment based there for up to one year, according to officials.

The Pine Bluff bond project task force met Aug. 12 to discuss the progress being made on this and other projects being funded through the five-eighths cent sales tax approved by voters in February 2011.

Renovation work on the Joe Thomas building is currently scheduled to begin Oct. 1, according to project architect Dave Sadler of Nelson Architectural Group.

“We anticipate a 10- to 11-month project period with completion by approximately July or August of 2015,” Sadler said.

Project architect Fred Reed of the Reed Architectural Firm said that he and Sadler would allow for a potential delay in the start of construction if the police and fire departments have not completed moving out by Oct. 1.

“We will replace the old jail space with police offices,” Reed said. “We will build a new State Street entrance along with a new elevator up to the second floor. We will build a first floor service area for people to be able to come right in and pay their fines without having to go all the way up to the main floor.”

Ward 4 Alderman Steven Mays said that he wants to make sure that local and minority contractors have a chance to work on the project.

“We need to keep more money in our city limits,” Mays said.

Reed agreed that it is important to have local and minority contractors represented.

“We have more luck getting minority and local subcontractors,” Reed said.

Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said that the logistics of the move are being worked out.

“There are a number of possibilities on where we will relocate but there are no final plans to present yet,” Hubanks said.

Hubanks said that there will be no compromise in readiness.

“I 100 percent guarantee that we won’t lose our function,” Hubanks said.

“The move will actually be an opportunity for us to get rid of old, outdated equipment,” Hubanks said. “Also files that we don’t have to maintain anymore. It will be an opportunity to purge that stuff.”

Fire Chief Shauwn Howell said that his department is also in the planning stages of its move.

“We will probably be distributing personnel to other stations,” Howell said. “There are a number of things to consider.”

Howell said that there will be no degradation in service during the transition.

“We’re working through it in a manner that won’t affect public safety,” Howell said. “We will continue to provide quality service in an efficient, effective manner.”

Mizan Rahman with ETC Engineers and Architects Inc. of Little Rock provided an update on the Saracen Landing splash park and the Townsend Park baseball complex.

“On the splash pad, the walls are going up,” Rahman said. “The plumbing is done and I am hoping that the bulk of the work will be completed before the winter.”

Rahman said that the main focus at Townsend Park is getting the ball-field grass planted as soon as possible.

“The contractor is getting the grass planted and the sprinkler system installed,” Rahman said. “The slab has been started for the concession stand and the restrooms. We will hopefully have time to get the grass growing before winter arrives.”

McClelland Consulting Engineers Inc. Executive Vice President Mitch Rose provided an update on several infrastructure projects.

Rose said that the Dew Drop Drain project will cost around $1.2 million.

“The project will involve the rehabilitation of the existing Dew Drop Drain and include repairing damaged corrugated metal pipes and failing concrete ditch paving and repairing washed out areas,” Rose said.

The Pitts Drain project was low bid by 1911 Construction for $904,464, according to Rose.

Rose said that a topographic survey has been completed on the Highway 63 sewer extension project from Interstate 530 to Ridgway Road.