Board opts to renovate MHP building for BPD

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2007

Based upon research done by Mayor Bob Massengill, the board ofaldermen voted Tuesday night to move forward with plans to relocatethe police department to the old Mississippi Highway Patrolbuilding.

Tuesday’s vote came following further debate over whether torenovate the MHP building on Highway 51 for use as a new BrookhavenPolice Department headquarters or to sell the MHP property andconstruct a new facility for BPD elsewhere.

Citing totals received from architect Michael Barranco and alocal building contractor, Massengill said a pre-engineered metalbuilding sturdy enough for a police department would cost between$537,600 and $638,400. Architect fees and paving could add another$50,000 to project costs.

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Going over available and potential revenue and expenditures, themayor projected an estimated shortfall of $261,425 that would beneeded to build a new facility for BPD.

Massengill went on to compare the costs of a new facility withthose of renovating the MHP building.

For the MHP building renovation, Barranco had quoted Massengilla price of $292,000. That would include addressing the mechanical,electrical and plumbing needs as well as tiles to the roof,ceiling, and floor.

With a $61,775 grant the city has received for the BPD project,as well as $150,000 allotted in the budget, the renovation pathwould require $33,225 out of the city’s pocket, plus anythingneeded for overlaying the pavement. Thus, the city would only needto provide roughly $50,000, which could be budgeted for the nextfiscal year, Massengill said.

There had been previous debate among the aldermen because theMHP building is structurally sound, but would need extensiverenovation. Several aldermen last night expressed support forrenovation.

“There’s no contest,” said Ward Six Buddy Allen. “We don’t needto spend upwards of $600,000 altogether for a brand new buildingwhen we’ve got a sound, strong building like this one already.That’s not good stewardship of the taxpayers’ money.”

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell was in favor of building a newfacility, saying he thought there was a way to cut the estimatedcosts in the budget Massengill had put together. He said the costsof building a metal building or a regular office building could beless restrictive and possibly within a more reasonable costarea.

“I would be, and I’m telling you now, opposed to it,” counteredMassengill. “We just don’t have the money. If you’ve got the extraquarter million it will take to build a new building, I’d like toknow where it is.”

A motion to pursue renovation passed 5-1. Maxwell voted againstthe motion and Ward Three Mary Wilson was not present for themeeting.

Alderman at large Les Bumgarner pointed out once again thestructural stability of the MHP building.

“I don’t mean to sound all wild wild west,” he said, “but if youhad a metal building and the police department had to hunker down,we’d be in trouble. I’d rather see them in a good solidbuilding.”

Massengill stressed the new facility would be well-built andstate-of-the-art, saying he’d have Police Chief Pap Henderson letthe architects know what needed to be built into the building.

“It’s going to be something we’re proud of,” said Massengill.”We’re going to put our police department in the best buildingpossible.”