Riviera Beach will demolish the mold-ridden police and fire headquarters

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Riviera Beach selected a pair of firms to design and build a fire station on Singer Island and a new police headquarters on West Blue Heron Boulevard, moves that will slow the escalating pace (and cost) of the city’s infrastructure renewal underline the city.

Core Construction Services of Florida was selected to design and build the new police headquarters, which will replace the mold-soaked headquarters that is part of the dilapidated city government complex at 600 W. Blue Heron Boulevard. And Kaufman Lynn was selected to design and build the new fire station.

The new fire station would be the third such facility Kaufman Lynn has selected to build for Riviera Beach in recent years.

Mold has sickened some of the city’s first responders and has become something of a symbol of the city’s physical decline.

Riviera Beach voters approved a trio of bond measures in March so the city could collectively raise $115 million for a new police headquarters, a new fire station on Singer Island and parks and recreation facilities.

The city could spend as much as $35 million for the new police headquarters and as much as $25 million for the new fire station. The remaining $55 million will go to parks and recreation facilities.

A more than six-hour meeting on Wednesday, May 8, included some of the tense exchanges that have become typical of Riviera Beach City Council meetings, but that meeting ended like others in recent months — with the council voting in favor to move forward with large-scale projects that had been ignored or postponed by previous councils.

“We challenge staff, and we challenge each other,” said Councilman Douglas Lawson. “We are literally moving forward. This is unprecedented.”

The scale and cost of rebuilding in Riviera Beach is enormous

The city has already built one new fire station: the $20 million Fire Station 88 at 1920 W. Blue Heron Boulevard. Another, the $20 million Fire Station 87, is under construction not far from the city’s current administrative headquarters at 600 W. Blue Heron.

City officials held a “top-off” ceremony on May 3 to commemorate the progress of the facility, which is expected to be completed in February.

The $40 million for Fire Stations 88 and 87, combined with the $60 million for the Singer Island Fire Station and new police headquarters, totals $100 million in project costs.

And yet the city, which according to U.S. Census Bureau figures has a household income of less than $58,000 a year and where 20% of residents live in poverty, plans to spend much, much more.

If the city raises the $115 million approved by voters, it would cost homeowners $292 for every $250,000 of assessed taxable property value, according to city calculations. Residents are already paying sharply higher water and sewer rates, and they can expect to pay more in both property taxes and utilities if the city’s construction boom continues.

A new water treatment plant, which city officials say is desperately needed to replace the current 66-year-old plant, is expected to cost at least $300 million. There is $55 million in parks and recreation facilities. And City Manager Jonathan Evans has said another $98 million in road improvements are needed in the city.

All told, that would be $553 million for new parks and recreation facilities, a new police headquarters, three new fire stations, road improvements and a new water treatment plant.

How and where to allocate much-needed money is a challenge for Riviera Beach

It’s all too much for Councilman Tradrick McCoy, who urged voters to reject the $55 million parks and recreation bond referendum, decried rising costs for the water treatment plant and suggested May 8 that the bidding process the city used to select companies for the new fire station and police headquarters, insufficient cost control will be possible.

Core and Kaufman are expected to present design plans and then another set of construction plans.

McCoy told his colleagues he wanted to scrap that process and start over with one where the city would be more prescriptive on the front end, with the goal of getting maximum price up front and saving money.

The current process, he argued, would allow the companies, which know how much voters have approved for their projects, to price their work to suck up all the available money.

“Just because we have it doesn’t mean we should necessarily make it mandatory,” McCoy said. “Right now you can be assured that every dime of the $25 million (firehouse) bond that we’re going to issue will be spent. And the same can be said of the police. This is a terrible process.’

However, McCoy’s colleagues noted that the council has had many discussions about the various projects being considered and how to cover those costs. And Evans said initiating a new process would take at least a year — a time during which costs would escalate.

“The one thing I want to convey to the board is that with each passing month, the cost of these facilities increases exponentially,” he said. “Since I’ve been city manager, I’ve had to close public works, fire station 88, fire station 87, fire station 86, the police department and the library. Our facilities are in poor condition and we cannot postpone any delay. longer because we invariably have no place to house our employees. We are in desperate times right now and we must act quickly.”

McCoy ultimately voted with his colleagues to select companies for the fire station and police station projects.

The fire station must be replaced and a nearby water storage tank demolished and rebuilt within 42 months of being cleared to proceed. The police headquarters must be ready 30 months after Core is cleared to proceed.

The police headquarters had to be moved due to leaks and mold

Due to leaks and mold at the police headquarters at 600 W. Blue Heron, the city’s police department is operating out of the Port Center at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Having staff and storage space in the Port Center has cost the city dearly. Figures from city staff at the May 8 meeting show the city is spending about $319,000 a month on rented space at the Port Center and about $92,000 on an evidence warehouse there.

With an area of ​​42,000 square meters and 15,000 square meters for evidence storage, the new headquarters will more than double the capacity of the old building. The new building will also house a shooting range and tactical training, services for which police currently rely on other cities.

The city’s dilemma: $115 million in bond money cannot finance the much-needed water treatment plant

Current and former police department officials gathered at the old headquarters on Tuesday, May 7, to commemorate its upcoming demolition.

Evans, Douglas, Lanier and Chief Michael Coleman were among current and former city officials who took a ceremonial sledgehammer swing at the facade of the old building, which opened in 1978.

Former Police Chief James FitzGerald, who led the department from 1965 to 1992 according to his LinkedIn page, recalled being excited about moving into the now-closed building.

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“When we came here in 1978, we thought we had died and gone to heaven, even though it was leaking from the start,” FitzGerald said.

Lanier recalled working in the building’s evidence room as a high school student.

“I think back on this facility with fond memories,” she said, “but the new facility is going to be great.”

Lawson added, “We’re going to continue to move this city forward. We’re used to this. We’re putting up buildings.”

Wayne Washington is a journalist covering West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and race relations at The Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at [email protected]. Help support our work; subscribe today.