JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – What will become of the former U.S.Army Reserve Center in Jonesboro has remained an unanswered question for anumber of years, but its future is now starting to look a little clearer.
Members of the Local Redevelopment Authority committee votedunanimously Monday morning to allow the City of Jonesboro to acquire theReserve Center. City leaders are now applying to convert the building into anew police headquarters.
This action comes after Arkansas State University inJonesboro withdrew its intent last month to redevelop the vacant building,located at 1001 S. Caraway Road, into a facility for science and engineering.
"We think it's a good core structure and a good startingpoint," said Michael Yates, the Jonesboro police chief, "to deal with ourpublic safety and police needs as far as buildings go."
Chief Yates identified the Reserve Center several years agoas a better place to house his growing department.
A number of issues have spatially plagued the policedepartment's current facility in the Justice Complex, located at 410 W.Washington Avenue, in downtown Jonesboro.
Evidence storage has become the biggest obstacle to address.The chief says relocating to Caraway Road would create more space and allow hisdepartment to consolidate into one centrally located facility.
"The biggest benefit for the city," Yates added, "is havingthat 13, 15, 16,000 square foot structure to begin with. That's a savings forthe city that taxpayers won't have to bear for us to have a starting point towork toward what we actually need."
Current estimates show renovating the Reserve Center willcost about $1.2 million or less – compared to the nearly $4 million it wouldlikely take to construct a facility of a similar size.
The Reserve Center also has a number of amenities that thepolice department could use. Those include a motor pool building with a washbay, a secure fenced parking area, a large multi-room vault to store weapons,locker room and shower facilities, a fully functional kitchen and large storageareas.
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin says the city will soon beginplanning to remodel and renovate the Reserve Center, though that work hinges ona decision from the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Army about thebuilding's intended use.
"When you deal with the federal government," Perrin said, "itmay take a little longer than you anticipate, but I would hope since we've beenthrough this process before that it should cut that down to some degree."
Perrin says the Reserve Center can be deeded to the cityupon the federal government's approval.
Work can then begin to renovate the facility, though cityleaders are unsure when that will be.