The Madera City Council and Redevelopment Agency Wednesday night voted to move ahead with construction of the city's new police station, putting a spending cap of $4.2 million on a 17,400-square-foot facility.
They also voted to allow peer review of plans to commence as soon as possible.
"There have been many concerns about the project," City Administrator David Tooley said as he asked permission to move the peer review process into the design stage. He said peer review now could help avoid problems later.
Peer review is conducted by an independent architectural firm which double checks the work of the principle architects, he said.
Newly appointed Police Chief Michael Kime, supporting early peer review, told the Council-Agency members he wanted to be sure the new building would be adequate.
"I did have some concerns," he said. "My main concern is that the department has the opportunity to grow ... We need to prepare properly so we don't spend the money more than once."
Tooley said the chief, who came to Madera from the Sacramento Police Department, has had experience with designing and building police stations.
Council-Agency Member Gordon Skeels, himself a former Madera chief of police, said his only concern about moving up the peer review was whether it would further delay the project, which has been discussed since the 1990s.
"How long are we talking about delaying the project?" Skeels asked. "Days? Weeks? Months? Years?"
Tooley replied that if a delay occurred, it would be 90 days at most.
Council-Agency Member John Wells moved to go ahead with the peer review change, saying it could mean savings in the long run.
But Council-Agency Member Sam Armentrout took issue.
"I think we've beat this horse to death," he said. "I think it's time to move, time to move on this project, time to move forward.
"I don't think 90 days is going to shake out anything exciting," he said. "It's difficult for me to justify another 90 days. You can review something to death. I think it's time to move forward."
Mayor and Agency Chair M.J. Nabors asked whether peer review couldn't get under way without delaying the project, and Community Development Director Leon Lancaster, who will head up the project for the city, said it probably could.
Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Jim Taubert said ways might be found to save money on the police station project.
"We've got $150,000 allocated for covered parking," he said. "Is that a luxury?
"Do we need six bathrooms? ... A prevailing-wage handicapped bathroom is a lot of money."
(He was referring to the fact that construction of public buildings must be accomplished at "prevailing wages," which usually are wages paid in the nearest large city.)
The Council-Agency members voted for Wells' motion, urging that there be no delay on the project, which will more than double the present area occupied by the present police station, which is part of the City Hall complex at 4th and G streets.
The new station will be built on a piece of property fronting on C Street, between 7th and Clinton streets, and with parking will occupy about a third of that block.
Then, the council-agency chose which construction option to adopt.
The members had three options before them — one for 13,290 square feet at $3.5 million, one for 17,400 square feet at $4.2 million and one for 19,856 square feet at $4.7 million.
Council-Agency Member Gary Svanda moved to adopt the 17,400-square-foot proposal, while challenging staff to keep costs at $4 million or less.
That option was adopted after a short discussion.
In other business, Redevelopment Agency personnel reported on graffiti abatement and other code enforcement activities for November, and numbers indicated significant increases in closed cases since the city and agency's "Clean and Green" program began in November.