Safety complex could spur 13th Street growth
by Joe Hendricks, Herald Staff
June 13 2007 at 0000 | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SANFORD — During Monday’s City Commission work session, Keith and Ian Reeves, from the Architects Design Group, presented a project update on the Master Plan Development Options pertaining to Sanford’s proposed public safety complex.

Pending voter approval, the city hopes to build new police and fire headquarters behind the Department of Agriculture building at the intersection of South Lake Avenue and 13th Street.

As the presentation got underway, City Manager Sherman Yehl said the city plans to close on two additional properties adjacent to the land recently acquired from the state. He expects this occur by June 19.

Negotiations are still underway to purchase a third piece of property needed to complete the project. The plans presented during the work session are based on the assumption that all three of these remaining outstanding parcels will be acquired.

Architects Design Group president Keith Reeves told commissioners a series of meetings took place with representatives of the police and fire departments while putting the master plan concepts together.

Preliminary plans that call for a community gateway feature and civic plaza area along 13th street.

According to plans, the police department headquarters would face 13th street and the fire department headquarters would face Lake Avenue. Public parking would be located at the northeast portion of the parcel. Staff parking would be located along Lake Avenue, south of the fire department headquarters.

When discussing landscaping elements, Architects Design Group Vice President Ian Reeves, Keith’s son, told commissioners efforts would be made to save the lives oaks at the southwest corner of the property, incorporating the trees into the project design. The water oaks, now past their prime, will likely be removed.

Rather than building a typical retention pound for storm water drainage, tentative plans call for a mini-lake at the southern end of the property, with the possibility of walkways or trails surrounding the man-made lake.

Ian also said he sees the public safety complex as something that could serve as a community gateway and spur economic development in the Goldsboro area, going so far as to suggest city staff consider streetscaping the area as a means of further enhancement.

While designing a building with an expected 30-year life span, the plan discussed at Monday’s meeting allows for future vertical and horizontal expansion of up to 28 percent of the complex’s original structure, although funding for any future expansion may prove difficult to come by.

The designers are recommending the building be built to the more energy efficient LEED standards and plans call for the complex to include a community meeting room for civic and community groups that would accommodate as many as 40 to 60 people.

The project timeline includes a 10-month design phase followed by 14-month construction phase. No cost estimates were provided at Monday’s meeting, but the project is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $18 million to $20 million and would require voters to approve financing measures that could include a millage increase.

In order to garner public support for the project, the designers recommend public outreach programs, direct mailings and community meetings to inform and involve the public in the months leading up to referendum’s appearance on the ballot — something Yehl said could happen as early as November.

Referring to the Winter Park safety complex referendum that passed by an 88 percent margin a few years ago, Ian said, “Typically public safety bonds pass by a high percentage.”

As the discussion drew to a close, Keith mentioned on a positive note that contractors are seeking work rather than turning it down as was the case in recent years.

“Roofers are actually looking for work nowadays,” he said, noting that while material costs have been dropping, labor costs continue to inch forward.

Mayor Kuhn then mentioned a Seminole County School Board project that was once estimated to cost $12 million. A more recent estimate put the cost closer to $8 million, giving slight hope to the idea that Sanford’s public safety complex might not be as expensive as once feared.

In closing, Sherman Yehl said city commissioners would discuss the proposed plans and construction timelines in greater detail at the June 25 work session and commission meeting.