Jonesboro police move closer to getting new headquarters - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Jonesboro police move closer to getting new headquarters

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – What will become of the former U.S. Army Reserve Center in Jonesboro has remained an unanswered question for a number of years, but its future is now starting to look a little clearer.

Members of the Local Redevelopment Authority committee voted unanimously Monday morning to allow the City of Jonesboro to acquire the Reserve Center. City leaders are now applying to convert the building into a new police headquarters.

This action comes after Arkansas State University in Jonesboro 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 starting point," said Michael Yates, the Jonesboro police chief, "to deal with our public safety and police needs as far as buildings go."

Chief Yates identified the Reserve Center several years ago as a better place to house his growing department.

A number of issues have spatially plagued the police department'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 his department to consolidate into one centrally located facility.

"The biggest benefit for the city," Yates added, "is having that 13, 15, 16,000 square foot structure to begin with. That's a savings for the city that taxpayers won't have to bear for us to have a starting point to work toward what we actually need."

Current estimates show renovating the Reserve Center will cost about $1.2 million or less – compared to the nearly $4 million it would likely take to construct a facility of a similar size.

The Reserve Center also has a number of amenities that the police department could use. Those include a motor pool building with a wash bay, a secure fenced parking area, a large multi-room vault to store weapons, locker room and shower facilities, a fully functional kitchen and large storage areas.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin says the city will soon begin planning to remodel and renovate the Reserve Center, though that work hinges on a decision from the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Army about the building's intended use.

"When you deal with the federal government," Perrin said, "it may take a little longer than you anticipate, but I would hope since we've been through this process before that it should cut that down to some degree."

Perrin says the Reserve Center can be deeded to the city upon the federal government's approval.

Work can then begin to renovate the facility, though city leaders are unsure when that will be.

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