6/2/2008 10:51:00 PM If You're Happy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands!
Seven weeks ago, a story, titled "City Eyes Church for Police Headquarters", appeared in the local newspaper (The Shelbyville News, April 12, 2008).
In the article, Mayor Furgeson proselytized his plan to purchase and remodel the First Christian Church building for use as additional municipal office space. In case you missed it, here are the mayor's quotes from the article.
"We are very crowded, and we're out of room here at City Hall."
"That church building would be ideal for housing our police department and city council chambers."
"We here at City Hall are simply squeezed for room, and there's no space to put anybody. That building would answer our growing needs."
"There's no room for expansion upstairs either. The second floor contains my office and the offices of my secretary, the city attorney, personnel director and part-time receptionist. The other side has the city council chambers and a small meeting room. The basement has very little usable space."
"We've already looked into it (purchase of the church) and made several trips over there to discuss it with them. They are asking about $435,000 for it, and that might be acceptable."
The mayor pointed out that the city has been paying $355,000 a year to house the police department in the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center, and added:
"...we're not going to own any of that space because of poor contracts signed by past administrations. I've talked to the county commissioners about what they're going to charge us, and it will probably cost us the going rate. So, any way you look at it, we're going to continue paying a lot of money to have the police department housed there."
According to Mayor Furgeson, the city has already hired an unnamed architectural engineer to look at the church structure and to estimate the cost of adapting it to city use. (Who did the city hire? How much did it cost?)
The mayor continued:
"We would leave our police central dispatch with the sheriff's department at the justice center and move all the other offices. There currently is legislation pending anyway that would require one dispatcher for the county by the year 2012."
The newspaper article reported that a quick walk-through of the church revealed that the second floor of the church building is accessible to the handicapped.
"That is probably all we need, because that floor will be the only one accessible to the public," Furgeson said.
And finally, the mayor expressed his desire to convince council members to allocate funding for the facility.
"I sincerely believe it's in the best interest of the city and the police department." he said.
So, there you have it.
The mayor wants to buy a church for the Shelbyville Police Department and for additional municipal expansion.
The city has hired an architectural engineer.
The mayor is trying to convince council members to allocate funding for his plan.
Yet there has been no follow-up report about the project in the newspaper. Nor has there been any mention of the project in any city meetings during 2008, according to the minutes of meetings posted on the city's website.
Construction of the new Shelbyville Fire Station was preceded by a robust debate, wouldn't a public discussion of the mayor's Police Department plan be healthy for the community?
Maybe the mayor has abandoned his plan.
Or, maybe the city has already consummated a deal to purchase the church.
If the city intends to move forward with the project, how much will the total cost be to purchase, remodel and furnish the building? what are the projected, ongoing operational expenses? Where will the city get the money to pay for the project? From economic development funds? From Racino income? From repayment of the Intelliplex Conference Center loan? (Ooops! Sorry, that's a different issue).
Has our city government actually grown so large that it needs additional space? If so, do other alternatives exist to meet those needs?
Perhaps you have your own questions about the mayor's plan, or maybe you'd simply like to forward a comment. I encourage you to do so. Use a pseudonym if you wish.
In the meantime, I'll be working on some more cartoons because I really like the image of politicians running the city from a church...
Thank you, Mr. Mayor!
Posted: Monday, June 16, 2008
Article comment by:
Alfred E. Neuman
Are we surprised that the newspaper did not report (1). Who was hired to do the architectural study?
(2). How much this cost us, the taxpayers?
(3). That the Council has not discussed this in open session and that the newspaper has not reported that the Council and Furgy have not discussed this in open session?
What? Me worry? Well, yeah.....
Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2008
Article comment by:
WOW, it seems that the City Police Dept. and the whole administration is growing with Miracle Grow! Too bad the rest of the city hasn't seen much fertilizer lately as I wonder just "why" all the increased space needs are justified for so little "growth" in ole' Shelbyville??
Man, I remember when the new Criminal Justice Center was all the craze and we taxpayers were critized highly for not being able to "see" that this marvelous, horribly expensive building, complete with tunnel, was just the answer to everyone's prayers and would take us well into the unforeseen future with it's greatness and size. What happened with that great con-job?
Or...is there a squabble between the City Police and the County Sheriff's Dept? Or better yet, does the Mayor and his worthy advisor and his trusty side kicks just want to spend some more of the tax dollars on a whim? Wonder who that architect is - anyone care to place your bets, folks? Is all of this a matter of record in the Council minutes or has it even been "openly" discussed before proceeding?
Then there's the matter of moving the council chambers to the church building also - gee, my mind goes wild with that image - they could use the choir loft for the council members and Mayor Fergie could use the pulpit. Now that's a picture to behold.
What will they cram down our throats next??
I really hate to see a previous church used for some of the unholy things that go on...