Vision 2013

SPLOST to fund Newnan public safety complex

by John A. Winters

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Coweta voters approved the new county-wide one-percent SPLOST, last year. Without it, Newnan's police department and municipal court would have remained at the aging Municipal Building on Jefferson Street, which also houses the Wadsworth Auditorium.

Thanks to passage of a special one-cent sales tax extension, the city of Newnan will be getting a new public safety complex.

Voters approved the new county-wide one-percent tax, known as the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, last year. Without it, the city's police department and municipal court would have remained at the aging Municipal Building on Jefferson Street, which also houses the Wadsworth Auditorium.

It will be Newnan's biggest single construction project at $8.5 million. The other big project, renovating the old Newnan Hospital for a new University of West Georgia Newnan satellite campus, is estimated to cost about $15 million, but the city's share is under $6 million.

The city is "advanced funding" the project, meaning it will borrow against future SPLOST funds to pay for construction.

The city is expected to announce the location of the new public safety complex shortly. There were hopes the city's new fire station could be located next to the public safety complex to save money, but the fire station needs to be located further north.

"This is a cash project and we will not take on any debt," said Mayor Keith Brady. "It is a much needed project for our police and municipal court... and we appreciate the citizens voting for it."

"I was ready to be in there yesterday," joked city Police Chief Buster Meadows. "Right now we are spread out among four buildings, including rental property. Getting us back under one roof makes us a lot more efficient."

"And with the buildings we have now, we have no room for growth," he added. "Our courtroom is really bad. Attorneys have to meet outside in the hallways with their clients and family members aren't allowed in because there is no room."

"I just really want to thank the citizens for approving the sales tax for this much needed project," he said.

Clark Patterson Lee was named as the design architect for a fee of $399,797. The construction manager will be Conyers-based Potts Construction, which will be paid $409,879.

"We're getting the architects to meet with the police department and start working on a rough floor plan," said City Manager Cleatus Phillips.

Construction is expected to start later this summer with an anticipated opening at the end of 2014.

Once the police and courts move, some decision will have to be made about the existing Municipal Building.

The city and its Cultural Arts Commission have already solicited public comments about the best redevelopment uses for the building.

"It is envisioned that this redesigned facility could become a cultural arts destination and support the efforts to promote tourism and economic development in historic downtown Newnan," city officials said recently.



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