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Renovation of former public safety building to move ahead

By Staff | Nov 16, 2010

Renovation of the former public safety building will move ahead after the Cape Coral City Council approved the decision Monday night.
The former home to the police and fire departments, the building also served as city hall, but will now become the base of operations for the city’s entire Public Works Department.
Project Manager Mark Ridenhour said Monday that the project is budgeted at just under $2 million and potential cost overages are already built into the total price.
“The building can be saved and is not sick,” Ridenhour said, referring to rumors of mold problems in the building.
Major renovations to the building will include a new roof, an air conditioning system upgrade and the design and installation of a laboratory.
A consultant is required to design the laboratory, according to Ridenhour. Mention of the “consultant’s fee” rankled one councilman.
Councilmember Erick Kuehn reminded Ridenhour of recent reaction from the community over the hiring of “consultants” Bill Towler and Jim Martin by City Manager Gary King.
“I’m looking at the consultant fee … we keep squawking about spending $20,000 on consultants that will save us millions,” Kuehn said.
Councilmember Marty McClain said the consulting help to design “a lot of scientific engineering components” that are necessary for the laboratory.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said that since the building is not “sick.” it should be renovated and utilized by the city in a different capacity.
“The key selling point is that the building is structurally sounds, and does not have mold or any other environmental concerns,” McGrail said.
Currently, the building houses 25 employees from several different departments but is being served with a only single air condition unit, according to Ridenhour.
It has been virtually empty since the city’s police department moved its operations to the new multi-million dollar building across the street last year.
Once renovations are completed, the move would not only consolidate the Public Works staff into one location, but also eliminate any outside leases the city is paying for — such as the billing department location on Pine Island Road — and improve the building so it will be sufficient for another 20 years, according to Ridenhour.