The wheels are in motion for a new public safety center in Parsons.
City commissioners on Monday will consider setting May 27 as the date to receive requests for qualifications for a feasibility study and architectural services for the proposed center. The agenda item is on the commission’s consent docket, which includes items the city staff considers of routine nature, with one affirmative vote approving the recommended action for all of the items.
The city staff has been discussing a new public safety facility for some time. The proposed center would serve as the police and fire headquarters as well as for other purposes. Last year, the commission authorized the purchase of 3.43 acres of land where a car dealership once stood. The land, most of which is covered with concrete left over from the dealership, is located between South 21st Street and the Union Pacific Railroad as well as Corning Avenue and Belmont Avenue. It is south across the street from Westco Home Furnishings and Ballers Sports Bar & Grill.
City Manager Debbie Lamb said during a Thursday work session that the planning for the center was expedited by possible new federal money being available for the development of the center.
“Part of the reason for moving forward a little bit quicker with this — there’s federal money coming out that we have no way of knowing what it’s going to be used for. Part of that is you’ve got to be shovel ready,” Lamb said.
She said the city has been building up money in the public safety sales tax fund for a feasibility study and design of the building. The city has a half-cent sales tax devoted primarily to public safety.
Lamb said Police Chief Robert Spinks has identified 31 companies with experience in developing public safety complexes. If authorized Monday, the city staff will send requests for proposals to those companies. The staff then plans to narrow down the list of proposals to two or three and then seek approval of a company from the commission.
Spinks, Deputy Police Chief Dennis Dodd and Fire Chief Kenny Ward worked together on the specifications for the facility.
Mayor Tom Shaw said many Southeast Kansas cities have built new public safety centers or are in the process and indicated it would be good for Parsons to consider the idea if federal money becomes available.
“This sounds like a really good idea to be able to move forward and be ready if an opportunity presents itself. An opportunity is not an opportunity if you’re not prepared,” Shaw said.
The current fire headquarters at 1819 Washington Ave. was built in 1938. The police station at 217 N. Central Ave. was built in 1994. Both were damaged in the April 19, 2000, tornado and continue to suffer structural issues, according to the commission agenda. Both police and fire operations have outgrown their facilities. The police headquarters also includes a police annex for investigations and a drug task force as well as an overflow facility for excess evidence and property storage.
In another matter Monday, the commissioners will consider allowing Parsons High School to use the Seaton Family Pavilion at Forest Park, the park area north of it and the nearby restroom facility to host prom.
The high school wants to move the prom outdoors as a safety precaution amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the plan is approved, the prom would be on May 1. The walk-in would be at 6 p.m., with the dance ending at 11 p.m. Broadway from Heacock Street to South 13th Street would be closed from 5 to 8 p.m.
A prom committee was hoping to host the prom on a downtown street, but Lamb said several city staff members thought there were too many “moving parts” to make that happen. The park was the committee’s second option, she said.
Lamb said the school will rent a tent for shelter in case it rains. What will be done if the weather is too bad for an outdoor event is yet to be decided, she said.
The commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the commission room at the Parsons Municipal Building. The meeting will be livestreamed at livestream.com/parsonskansas.
In other business the commissioners will consider:
— Approving bids for the sale of hay at Lake Parsons, Tri-City Airport and County Line Industrial Park.
— Approving a bid for a K-9 police vehicle. Only one bid was received for a 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 SSV for $58,653.28 from Superior Emergency Response Vehicles LLC, Andover. The commissioners also will consider designating a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor as surplus property to be sold.
— Approving a permit for the Labette County Archery Club to host 3-D shoots at Tolen Creek Park on May 2, June 6, Aug. 1 and Sept. 5.
— Approving the use of city-owned land at County Line Industrial Park by the Parsons Recreation Commission for two mud runs, one for children and one for teenagers and adults, on April 18 and April 25.
— Approving payment of $6,500 to HDR Engineering Inc. for work completed on the design of a peak-flow pump station at the wastewater treatment plant.
— Approving payment of $28,648.80 for repair work on the Parsons Municipal Swimming Pool. The pool is expected to be ready to open by late May.
— Approving an event sponsorship agreement with CST Storage for this year’s Music in the Park concert series. The local storage tank manufacturing company would be the title sponsor for the fourth year in a row.
— Approving payment of $102,625.86 to Heck & Wicker Construction Inc. for work on the 16th Street improvement project from Clark Avenue to Broadway Avenue. The project is expected to be complete within 30 to 60 days, depending on weather.
— Setting 10 a.m. April 15 as the time to receive bids on two lawn mowers.