Council Roundup: Scaled-Down Public Safety Center Back on the Table

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The Raleigh City Council this week approved a consultant to who will provide the first phase of design for a new public safety facilities center.

The plan is a scaled-down version of the Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center, which caused intense debate among councilors two years ago. The center would have housed the city’s police, fire and emergency communications in a high-rise building downtown.

This new center will be the new home for the city’s Emergency Communications Center, Emergency Operations Center and an information data center. It will be built on city-owned property at the intersection of Capital Boulevard and Brentwood Road. It could also house a district police station.

The city will hire Pearce, Brinkley, Cease, and Lee/AECOM to create the first set of schematic designs, a master plan and concept plans. The city will spend $477,375 on this first phase of design.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Councilor Thomas Crowder asked about the project’s total cost. The old safety center plan was abandoned, in part, because of a $205 million cost.

City Manager Russell Allen said phase one of this project should be complete by December and a cost estimate would be given to the council then.

Crowder insisted that Allen give him some kind of estimate. Allen said that he could give the council a potential cost, but staff won’t have a clear idea until after phase one is complete.

“All we’re doing is guessing,” Allen said.

City staff has some information to provide an estimate for program costs, but site and infrastructure costs still need to be determined.

Councilors also approved a $101,500 contract with Burns and McDonnell. Burns and McDonnell will provide council with a threat and security analysis for the new plan. The analysis will include the evaluation of risks to the site and the building and how to mitigate those risks in the design.

Small Business Office Gets New Position
The city will use $50,000 that was set aside for small business support to fund a full-time position in the city’s new economic development department.

The position will be dedicated to small business and entrepreneurial support. Because the funds would not cover the complete cost of the position, the city reclassified a vacant position.

The suggestion came after meeting with a the Economic Development Partnership, which includes organizations such as the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and the Wake County development office.

While Downtown Raleigh has been the focus of economic development in recent years, the new staff member will provide support for the entire city.

Some of the basic responsibilities for the first year will be seeking out grant opportunities, networking with future and current business owners and mapping resources for entrepreneurs.

Historic Cemetery Fence Restoration
The restoration of Raleigh’s historic cemeteries after the April 2011 tornado continue. Tuesday Councilors approved hiring MacConnell & Associates of Cary for design and fence repairs at the cemeteries.

The EF3 tornado on April 16, 2011 tore the old, massive trees out of the ground as if they were saplings, damaging three cemeteries that date back to the 1700s. City Cemetery and Mt. Hope Cemetery are on the National Register of Historic Places and O’Rourke Catholic Cemetery was recently designated as a local history landmark.

The city began cleaning up the trees in November.

Cleanup begins in City Cemetery, where many old trees fell during the April 2011 tornado.

Dealing with the City’s Geese
The Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board recommended low-cost methods of controlling the city’s Canadian geese.

For now, public education — pamphlets and signs reminding people not to feed geese — will be the main focus. The group will make adjustments in the future.

Councilor John Odom said he was ready for a more offensive method, such as capture and removal or contraceptives.

“I think this is a little bit of a waste of money,” he said. “We either need to do something about the geese or not.”

He said he the city needs to do more than just put up signs.

Councilman Randy Stagner reminded the council that even though the geese are everywhere, they are still federally protected.

“We have to understand what we can do and make sure we maximize that and then if we need to go in with others … we can do something on a larger level,” he said.

The work plan passed 6 to 1, with Odom voting against.


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