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Gainesville to celebrate new public safety complex
City marks 189th birthday at ceremony
Gainesville Police Capt. Chad White readies the trophy case with vintage Gainesville Police Department photos and memorabilia inside the new public safety complex Monday afternoon for today’s building dedication

Gainesville public safety building official opening

When: 2 p.m. today
Where: 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville
Noteworthy: The complex cost the city $20.4 million, with construction starting in early 2009.

Gainesville will celebrate its 189th birthday today by opening - well, cutting - the ribbon on its new public safety complex.

A ceremony is planned for 2 p.m. at the Queen City Parkway building which houses the city's police department, municipal court and Fire Station No. 1.

If it rains, as predicted, ceremonies will move indoors, with the police department cutting its ribbon in its lobby and the fire department's festivities taking place in the engine bay area.

A program will take place in the city's new municipal courtroom.

And birthday cake will be offered in the lobby for guests.

For fire and police officials already occupying the building, the move from the 35-year-old complex off Jesse Jewell Parkway is like an early gift.

"It's really great. Everybody is enjoying the new place and getting used to the functions and the flow of having a new place," said Fire Chief Jon Canada.

"(Having) more space is the biggest thing for everyone. ... We were absolutely out of room and had been ... for quite some time (at the Jesse Jewell complex)."

Police Chief Brian Kelly said his staff also is enjoying modern amenities and new space.

"We're definitely enjoying ... the ability to have two services under one roof - the municipal court and police department - to better serve the citizens of Gainesville," he said.

"There's still a little bit of touch-up work and getting the rest of the electronics installed. Everything else seems to be working very well. We're extremely impressed with the work that's been done on the building at this point; it's just a matter of still unpacking and getting organized."

The complex cost the city $20.4 million, with construction starting in early 2009. Special purpose local option sales tax revenue is paying for the project.

Plans now are underway to tear down the old public safety complex and start construction on city's new pedestrian bridge.

Project manager Barlcay Fouts has said the demolition should take about two months to complete and will include the two-story building and one-story gun range, abatement of floor tile and pipe insulation, and removal of asphalt and concrete from the area.

Tristar of America will demolish the property for $113,000, which is below the city's estimated price of about $180,000.

Once demolition is complete, city officials will move forward with the pedestrian bridge in February.

The Gainesville Redevelopment Authority has approved Rogers Bridge Co. of Covington for a total contract of $2.18 million.

With an estimated six-month contract, the bridge - projected to be 450 feet long and 10 feet wide - should be complete before August.

City View, a planned high-rise hotel featured as the keystone of redeveloping Midtown, is paying for the bridge, and the city will later reimburse up to $3 million once a contract goes out for the proposed 10-story office building and hotel.

"It's kind of a bittersweet move for us," Canada said. "We're thrilled to have more space ... but we leave a place that was our home for 35 years, way before I came to work there. We've got some folks who spent their entire career at that station."

At the same time, all the change means progress for the city.

"I think it's great to see ... new things happening and moving forward," he said.

Staff writer Carolyn Crist contributed to this report.