Once again the subject of the proposed police station expansion was one of the main points at Monday's Smyrna Town Council meeting.
A month after Smyrna Town Council approved a motion to seek proposals for a cheaper police station, council members changed their minds on Monday by voting for the project to go back to the Police Building Committee so they can work with the architecture firm who did the feasibility study on bringing their original design down to the previously determined $3.5 million cap on the project.
The motion to send the project back to the committee was approved 5-2, with Councilwoman Valerie White and Councilman Jeff Flairty voting against the measure. Flairty is the council member to originally suggest council approve the feasibility study with the stipulation that council put out Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) from other firms not to exceed $3.5 million, excluding contingency fees.
The suggestion of sending the project back to the Police Building Committee was made by Councilwoman Regina Brown, who is chair of the committee.
Brown said the committee members were questioning their responsibilities as a result of the previous decisions made by council on the project.
"Instead of the RFQ's, perhaps the project should've been sent back at that point in time to the committee," Brown said. "Up until that time the committee was given no guidance on the cost or expectations."
Brown's motion to send the project back to the committee to get the cost down led to several questions on the topic.
Town lawyer Barrett Edwards asked if the motion had any bearing on the RFQ. Originally Brown said no but then the topic was brought up again because it seemed as if the motion nullified the RFQ request. Brown addressed this after the meeting and said the motion basically suspends the RFQ process pending the results of whether or not the committee and the architecture firm — Fearn Clendaniel — is able to get the project down to the $3.5 million cap: "We can always go back to the RFQ."
Councilman Bob Johnson said it seemed like sending the project to the Police Building Committee was backtracking.
"I thought the RFQ's was going forward with the project," Johnson said.
Councilman Anthony DeFeo reiterated the fact that he doesn't want to be sitting on the other side of council chamber five or six years from now wondering why council didn't already do what was needed to get a police station.
"We keep walking up to the street but finding way to back away," DeFeo said.
Councilwoman Valerie White agreed with DeFeo that the council has gone back and forth on the project and they just needed to vote.
Johnson agreed stating there has been a lot of back and forth, and eventually said the whole experience has been a messed up process. He said to just send it back to the committee so they can bring it back to council with a design at the $3.5 million cap.
"Stop hemming and hawing and just get this done," Johnson said."
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