By DAVID GREEN
Another Morenci city council meeting, another plea from audience members to reconsider moving the police station.
Council members voted 5-1 Monday night to proceed with site plan estimates to convert the NWD industrial building to a new police station, recycling center and storage area for Department of Public Works materials.
The building is located at the back of Wakefield Park and has been vacant since a business moved out at the end of last year.
The same motion came to halt at the Aug. 10 meeting when it failed to attract a second. This time the issue moved forward by a 5-1 vote, with mayor Doug Erskin voting against the motion and Leasa Slocum absent from the meeting.
The motion calls for the expenditure of $2,600 for engineer Todd Dailey to develop site plan drawings for the conversion of the building. Dailey will charge an additional fee for extra copies of the plans.
The original motion was amended to include a review of the project with regard to city code in addition to state building code specifications.
Any time the use of a building is changed, said council member Keith Pennington, the property must be brought up to current specifications.
“Todd should do an overview of city code to check for other needs,” he said.
Mayor Doug Erskin pointed out to audience members that the engineering request will give council members cost estimates and then further evaluation of the project will be made.
Audience member Jan Sampson told council the process is backwards.
“All the things we’re discussing now should have been discussed and checked out before we had a motion,” she said. “We’re going it all backwards.”
City council voted 6-1 on June 8 to approve the police move, but the costs involved have not yet been determined.
Audience member Colleen Leddy asked if a recent letter to the editor had swayed the opinion of any council members about giving up potential manufacturing space.
Jason Cook said he’s not firm in his decision and wants to examine the costs before making a final decision.
Tracy Schell said she still stands behind council’s decision. She said the use of a vacant building that the city already owns is “a terrific idea.”
“It’s only been empty eight months,” Leddy said. “The potential of the building is something to preserve.”
City clerk/administrator Renée Schroeder noted that there was also discussion about possibly adding on to the existing police station. She wondered if Dailey could also give an estimate for that, but Weeks said that would require a separate site plan with an additional cost.