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Gainesville police, fire station to cost $20.4 million
Project should be finished by June 2010
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A new police and fire station in Gainesville will cost the city $20.4 million, according to the project’s manager.

Jarrett Nash told Gainesville City Council members Thursday that preparations for the city’s future public safety facility can begin next month, with project completion by June 2010.

The planned facility, located on 13 acres in Gainesville’s Midtown district, will house the city’s municipal court, police station, fire department administration and serve as Fire Station No. 1. Its projected completion date coincides with the city’s planned handoff of the current public safety facility to City View LLC, which purchased the property for $2 million to build a high-rise hotel and office complex.

Nash told council members Thursday that architects for the station, Heery International, have promised a maximum price for the facility’s design, construction and building furnishings of $20,442,988.

The city has taken out a line of credit to get the project rolling, but is counting on voters to approve the referendum for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to pay for it.

If Hall County voters approve the proposed 1 percent sales tax in March, Gainesville will receive its part of the money in advance, and is hoping to collect $9.5 million in sales taxes in each of the first three years to pay for the facility.

If the referendum is not passed, the city will have to find another way to pay for the project, but delaying construction is not an option.

"If for some reason, you know, SPLOST doesn’t pass, we still have a commitment to build that facility, because of (the construction of the hotel-office complex)," City Manager Kip Padgett has said previously. "We’re going to have to look at the other options, which aren’t many, to do that."

Two City Council members said Thursday that the sales tax referendum was vital to the project.

"We absolutely need that SPLOST issue to pass, because it wouldn’t be right to put that on the backs of the property tax payers," Councilman George Wangemann said.

Other city officials, including Padgett and Mayor Myrtle Figueras, focused on the positive aspects of starting construction on the facility and its effect on the future of Midtown.

"If you think about Midtown, right here at the north end you’ve got the City View, at the south end you’ve got our project and then kind of in the middle you’re going to have the greenway and Hall Area Transit, so it’s kind of all coming together," Padgett said.

"Y’all have done a great job in the time frame you’ve had to do it in, and you’ve been very thorough," Dunagan said.

"... We’re looking forward to a shovelin’," Dunagan said.

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