Improvements to the Thomaston Police Department, including an enclosed carport, improved evidence room, additional meeting and interrogation rooms, and additional offices were approved Tuesday night when the Thomaston City Council approved a bid of $387,000 for the work from McElroy Construction. But the approval did not come without some discussion among the council and staff.
City Manager Patrick Comiskey recommended that the council accept McElroy Construction’s low bid for the work. A total of four bids were submitted, ranging from the low bid of $387,000 up to a high bid of $438,465. Council member Gary Atwater made a motion to approve the bid, and it was seconded by Council member Patsy Perdue.
But prior to the vote, Mayor Pro Tem Doug Head asked if the project will solve the current issues the police department has and will it accommodate what may be needed for the next 20 years.
Mayor Hays Arnold suggested that Thomaston Police Captain Sidney Corley answer the question.
“Yes, it will provide us what we need,” Corley said. “I think the plan is a good one. Todd Albritton (architect) made the changes that were asked for.
“I’m kind of shocked at the cost,” he added. “When we got started with the whole process, we were thinking about $200,000. But that’s for y’all to decide. It’s a lot of money.”
Mayor Arnold stated that based on his experience in the construction industry, he felt they had a good bid.
“Having spent almost 50 years in the contracting business, I can tell you that a lot has changed over the time that I began constructing, and today I’ve seen an awful lot happen and it boggles the mind,” Arnold said. “I don’t feel otherwise, but we had four good competitive bids on it. Those folks submitted, by far, the best bid. Given that, I would say that we probably got a good bid. I don’t know that the person that submitted the low bid feels real comfortable seeing what some of the other bids were, but it’s his to perform.”
Council member Gary Atwater also stated he felt the proposed improvements are much needed.
“I think it will enhance not only the building itself, but it will work with the efficiency of our officers, and I think it will be a great moral booster with the things that they can do with this building when the project is done,” he said. “The things they can do with the evidence rooms alone will be hundredfold.”
Mayor Arnold also noted that no one has a crystal ball to be able to see what will be needed in the future.
“Mr. Head’s question is talking 20 years out. I wish I could answer that. I would like to say that the population of Thomaston would double or triple,” Arnold said with a smile. “That would be wonderful. But I don’t have a crystal ball. So I would simply say that given the last 15 years, if it is any sign of the next 15 years, it will certainly fulfill the needs of the community and more. It will give us an adequate space in excess of 4,000 to 5,000 square feet when it is completed. All those things being said, I would think that these additions and expansion will take care of the needs of the community for the foreseeable future.”
Council member Don Greathouse then asked Captain Corley what else the police department will need.
Corley said he saw no issues with the plan for the police department, but said they may need to make changes with the city courtroom. The city uses the same room for court that the city council and county commission use for their meetings.
“The long term, at some point we’re probably going to have to do something with the courtroom – we’re having issues with it,” Corley said. “The county commissioners have squeezed us in with their time change and it’s backing us up to where we have to pack up about 5:15 and move upstairs. That takes time and also causes problems with digital court, because all of our connections are down here. But we never planned for it at the police department because of the parking issue. There is no way we could have court at the police department – there is no place to park that many cars.
“But I’ve talked to Judge Fowler, we do have some other options. We’re looking at backing court up and starting earlier, possibly 7:30 or 8 a.m., versus 9 a.m. We’ve even looked at rolling it to another day, and just pressing the issue that we’re going to reserve the courtroom from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Right now, we’re kind of the step-child. Anybody else that comes along and wants the courtroom, we get kicked out. But if we implement those measures, I think it will fix those issues.”
Head said he has heard rumors about there being mold in the police department, and asked Corley if he has seen any mold.
“I have not,” Corley said. “We have carpet, and we have these mysterious black stains that keep popping up. I’m not an expert on mold, but I don’t think it is mold because you can take a white rag or paper cloth and nothing comes off of it. If it was mold, it would easily wipe off and leave a stain. Long term, when it comes time to change the carpet, my idea is to get rid of the carpet and get some kind of tile. It is more durable and easier to clean, and doesn’t stain.”
Council member J. D. Stallings noted that one of the alternates in the bid is the enclosed carport. He said deleting that would save $77,000.
But Mayor Arnold noted that the carport is made especially for the police to use to bring suspects in, and work on their cars’ equipment without being out in the weather. He said it is much more than just a household carport. He added that if they deleted the carport from the bid, and decided they needed it later, it would probably cost a lot more than $77,000.
The vote was called for and was 5-0 in favor. After the meeting, Comiskey said the builder, McElroy Construction, has said they can have the project completed in 12 weeks.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.