The City of Great Bend Monday morning broke ground on the long-awaited Justice Center during a ceremony at 12th and Baker, the site of the new Police Station and Municipal Court building.
Mobilization for the 20,000-square-foot nearly $9 million project will begin this week. The building should be completed in about 11 months.
“This is an exciting day,” City Administrator Kendal Francis said. “Today is a culmination of essentially to two years of hard work and planning.”
In October of 2020, a committee appointed by Mayor Cody Schmidt began in earnest the preparation and site selection. That committee included Schmidt, Police Chief Steve Hauimark, police Capt. Scott Bieberle, City Councilman Cory Urban and Building Official Logan Burns, along with community members Barry Stalcup, Andy Mingbenback and Adam Sciacca.
“To the men and women in blue that serve us every day, thank you,” Schmidt said. ”This is for you. For the Court. You guys now have something to be proud of. I can’t thank you enough.
“At the end of the day, this was all just a dream but today it becomes reality,” Schmidt said.
A lot of thanks to go around
Both Francis and Schmidt applauded the City Council for its commitment to this project.
“Three months ago, three and a half months ago, we came to the City Council knowing that this project was escalating in cost,” Francis said. It was suggested to cut the Municipal Court.
“But, the City Council understood that we have one opportunity to do this project right,” he said. “So I again, I’d like to say thank you to them for having the courage to make a vote understanding the ramifications.
“I’d also like to say thank you to the citizens who were willing to make an investment in our community,” Francis said. Voters passed in lasts November’s general election a .10% sales tax to help fund the project.
“In 1930, the United States Census shows Great Bend had approximately 5,500 people,” Haulmark said. The Great Bend Police Department’s headquarters was built and removed in 1938. “It was long time ago.”
Since then, the Fire Department moved out of the facility at 1217 Williams, and the court moved into it. But, the chief said, little else has changed.
Over the decades, the city grew, and the police and courts adapted to using the less-than-ideal current location, he said.
“Policing has also changed over the last 84 years,” Haulmark said.
“Many times in my profession, we’re at the end of something that has gone wrong and we’re trying to make it right,” Municipal Judge Chuck Pike said. “So it’s a real treat for me to be here for something that’s gone right from the beginning.”
He quoted Jim Rohn. “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. So at this point I want to recognize all of those people who in a time when excuses could have abounded everywhere chose to make this happen.”
Another tool in the arsenal
“I will say that your public servants are passionate about the city and the residents, and I’ve seen much more than I see in a lot of other communities around the state the region,” said Paul Michell, with GLMV Architecture of Wichita. This is the firm heading up the design for the center.
“It’s really a pleasure to work with them and they really have the city’s best interest in heart,” he said.
There’s really no secret the existing building “has really been a hindrance to proper public safety,” Michell said. The quarters were cramped and the building deteriorating.
“These buildings, honestly, they’re one of the most complex and most expensive tools available to public safety professionals,” he said. “On the police side of things, would you expect a police officer to go out without a uniform or a badge or a gun that’s malfunctioning, or a car with bald tires or sirens that don’t work? These are what allow them to go out and do their job every day and the building is really no different than that.”
The City Council on Aug. 15 approved the guaranteed maximum price of $7,790,59 for the facility. That figure was prepared by Wichita construction firm McCown-Gordan, hired by the city in December 2020 as the project manager, after a review of 96 bids.
GMLV was selected as the architect by the council in August 2021.
But, factoring in project alternates and the $498,500 for the architect (which has already been budgeted) and $420,000 for furnishings, fixtures information technology equipment provided by the city, the total cost comes to $8,883,273. That includes $518,091 in contingencies.
That cost exceeds current available revenues by $902,667.
To make up the difference, the city will use $677,765 in state COVID-19 relief Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) funds; $214,902 insurance proceeds; and $10,000 in interest from federal COVID relief American Rescue Plan Act payments.
In February, the council approved the conceptual design and budget estimates for the structure. As presented then, the total cost came to $8,083,387, higher than the project budget of $7,699,557.
The sales tax-supported bond issue is expected to bring in $5,638,557.47 and that is being paired with $2,061,000 in city reserves to pay for the new facility.
The city is also tapping about $1.5 million set aside for the project.
The overall plan includes the Police Department and the Municipal Court, as well parking for staff and the public.
The project was first addressed in 2016 when an engineering study for current police station on Williams Street was approved by the council. Championed by then-Police Chief Cliff Couch, there was discussion then that it would be preferable to start from scratch at a new location.
The idea was dusted off again in September 2020 when Francis brought up resuscitating the effort to replace the current building.