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$12.5 million Public Safety expansion near approval

A view from the west of the planned expansion of the Woodbury Public Safety Building, which would include a one-story parking garage for emergency vehicles and police squads. Submitted illustration.

A planned Woodbury Public Safety headquarters expansion would provide indoor parking for squad cars and increased training space for cops and other emergency responders.

The project, on track for final approval next month, includes a partial renovation of the building to include a training room, additional office and storage space and a workout area.

But Woodbury Public Safety Director Lee Vague said a key priority of the project is construction of an indoor parking garage for up to 60 emergency vehicles. Currently, there is no indoor parking for squad cars, and the department could save money in the long run by keeping cars indoors, particularly in the harsh winter months, Vague said.

"It truly is a need," he said. "I don't think it's a matter of convenience."

The one-story parking garage would be located on the west side of the building.

City Administrator Clint Gridley said a survey of residents found strong support for improvements to the public safety headquarters. However, a couple of residents in recent weeks have questioned the proposed financing plan and whether the renovation is too plush for tough economic times. A neighborhood meeting on the project is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 24 at the Woodbury Public Safety Building, 2100 Radio Drive. Such meetings are routine in the city review process.

The construction is estimated at about $8 million, but the total project cost, including interest payments, is projected to be about $12.5 million.

Under City Council members' direction, the city is planning to finance the project by issuing bonds for the project yet this year or in 2011 and wait until 2012 to tap into the property tax levy to repay the borrowed funds.

That delays the impact to property owners and allows the city to take advantage of a good project bidding environment, officials said.

In 2011, the average value home would be charged $11 for the project, half of the cost under a more traditional financing plan. The levy would go up another $4 a year for an average value home. Woodbury's average value home is $258,100.

The $12.5 million price tag is $1.1 million more than if the city used a financing plan more common in its capital projects and does not delay the tax impact to property owners.

The project plan came in at $110,000 under budget, Brian Hook of contractor Kraus-Anderson Construction told council members recently. It is a good time to build.

"The bidding climate is very good, very competitive," he said.

The construction plan is scheduled to go before the Woodbury Planning Commission July 7. City Council members likely will vote to approve the project and authorize funding July 14. Then, at the July 28 meeting, the council likely will settle on details of how it will be financed. Construction would begin yet this year, with a targeted completion date of August 2011.

Public Safety headquarters last was expanded in 2000. Older sections of the building were not updated at that time. The proposed project includes improved heating and ventilation systems and energy-saving construction.

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