Lawrenceville council delays decision on police building

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Lawrenceville City Council on Wednesday delayed a decision on a proposed new police headquarters - the second delay to the facility in a week.

Two council members expressed interest in changing a preliminary design of a three-story 70,000-square-foot building at the corner of Jackson Street and Ga. Highway 124, but other officials want the plan to go forward.

The delay, instead, came from a desire of some members to purchase or swap land with Gwinnett County Public Schools to expand the station's lot.

The city already has a tentative agreement to swap about a half acre of land with the school system to make room for the station, but council members, in a split decision, voted to go back to school officials to see if the city can gain control of a gravel lot used for bus storage as well as the location of the former Hooper Renwick School.

Councilman P.K. Martin said the acreage could not only mean a better design for the police building but also get rid of an unattractive gravel lot.

While Martin and Councilman Bob Clark questioned the extra capacity in a building five times the size of the police's current facility, others said they wanted to support a structure designed in conjunction with the police chief.

"This building," Councilwoman Judy Jordan-Johnson said, referring to the seven-year-old City Hall," is not what it was hoped to be because there was no input from staff. ... I just think we're taking away what they think is the best situation for them."

Architects with Precision Planning designed the building's ground floor, which would not have public access, to the police department's specifications. That space and a second floor with a public entrance were designed to accommodate a projected 10-year growth of the department. But Clark balked at the designed third floor, which would have been created as shell space to accommodate needs in the future. Martin, on the other hand, wanted to consider drawings to change the length of the L-shaped building to decrease the extra capacity.

But architect Paul Hoover pointed out that building the extra capacity now would be cheaper than building an expansion after a decade.

Councilman Mike Crow said he was disappointed in the delay.

"We've decided again to do nothing on the police department," Crow said, referring to a tabling of the issue at Monday's council meeting. "We need to make a decision."

Council members directed the city attorney to speak to school officials within the next week, and the design will be placed on the council agenda next month.

The police facility is expected to cost around $8 million, to be paid with 2005 sales tax funds.