By jason brown
July 06, 2012
LAFAYETTE — C onstruction on the Moss Street police precinct could start within the next few months, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said.
Plans initially called for the old Iberia Bank building that sits on the site to be demolished in early January, but the project was delayed after city-parish officials decided to use the same contractor for both demolition and construction, said Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, who represents the area.
Craft said the project is expected to go out for bids within 30 days and will be awarded after bids are received and evaluated. He said the project is expected to cost aroud $450,000.
The precinct is expected to be between 3,500 and 5,000 square feet and will accommodate from 25 to 30 officers at any given time, Craft wrote in an email late last week.
Precinct 4 shares space with Precinct 1 in the Clifton Chenier Center on Willow Street. The two precincts cover north Lafayette.
A modular building was initially proposed, but officials determined the city likely had the necessary funds to build a “sticks-and-bricks” standard construction on a slab, Craft said, adding the building will save money over the long run because it will last longer.
“Once that was decided, then we had to get plans drawn, reviewed by various departments, and then get a final draft,” Craft said.
The city also is looking into a possible joint endeavor with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office to move the Metro Forensics Investigation Unit, or crime scene unit, from its facility at 411 W. Vermilion St. to a metal building next to the bank.
The Sheriff’s Office is exploring the site as a viable option, although no plans have been finalized, said Capt. Kip Judice, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.
“Our staff has found that the site would be feasible in terms of size, as well as the fact that a police precinct with 24-hour police presence would provide for the necessary security,” Judice wrote in an email. “The crime scene unit is a vital part of the policing business; evidence integrity, evidence processing facilities and security present unique concerns for an off-site building, so much consideration will go into the final decision.”
Judice said if construction were to begin today, it would be several months before any move, which would be contingent on Lafayette police having a presence and substation in place.
If the move happens, Craft said, it would provide no additional costs for the Sheriff’s Office, because the land would not have to be purchased.
The move also would help relieve overcrowding at the downtown location, Craft said.
For the community, it would mean more law enforcement traffic in and out of the facility, Craft said.
“The greater the law enforcement presence, the better,” he said.
The site for the precinct originally was planned as a Greyhound bus station, but those plans fell through after the city-parish blocked the company’s move from its downtown location to Moss Street.
The company responded by filing a lawsuit in 2008.
The council settled that lawsuit last year for about $540,000 in a move that involved the city buying the location from Greyhound and offering the company free rent for 20 years at the city’s Rosa Parks Transportation Center downtown.
Part of the money budgeted for the new precinct went toward that settlement, Boudreaux said.