Roughly 100 to 200 people packed into the new Powder Springs police building on Monday for tours of the facility, refreshments, a ribbon cutting, and to meet the city’s new police chief, Charlie Sewell.
“I know all of you realize the economy is bad, and we’re really short on police officers—that’s the real reason you’re all here tonight. Raise your right hand and repeat after me,” Sewell, who started Aug. 1, joked with the crowd seated and standing within the department.
He continued on a more serious note: “I see this building as a bridge that will bring the police and the community closer together. In this building, we will educate ourselves and we will educate the community.”
In attendance were State Rep. David Wilkerson, County Commissioner Woody Thompson, police officers from around the county, and many city officials.
Mayor Pat Vaughn opened the proceedings by recognizing those involved in the project and giving the specifics of the building.
The building at 1114 Sailors Parkway—formerly an Ace Hardware store—was constructed in 1999. It was purchased by the city in 2009 for $1.2 million because of room constraints at the old station. The purchase was part of a $4.2 million Downtown Development Authority bond.
She told Patch afterward that the 2006 bond also included acquiring property to make way for the Lewis Road extension, and $200,000 for relocating the Seven Springs Museum if the railroad tracks that run through downtown are expanded.
The city looked at revamping the old station, Vaughn said, but that would have been “substantially” more expensive than using the Ace Hardware store, which had been vacant for three years before being purchased by Powder Springs.
Renovations began last October and the force, which includes 30 sworn officers when fully staffed, switched buildings in May.
“We would have moved in a little earlier, but the officers had to have time to unpack,” Vaughn joked. “But Chief Sewell came and the job was done.”
The building is 20,100 square feet—17,500 of which was already there, with the rest added for storage.
The mayor said the building was designed for 20-year growth and a staff of 80. “And we hope in 20 years, we’ll be able to afford a staff of 80,” she said.
Vaughn jokingly assured that the fireplace in the lobby was there when the city bought the building.
Faye DiMassimo, a Powder Springs resident and the director of the Cobb Department of Transportation, also spoke: “This is just an incredible testament to the leadership to the mayor and the City Council.”
Don Hicks with the city’s engineering firm, Croy Engineering, said besides one mirror in a restroom, the last items on the project’s punch list are finished.
“This is one of the true shining lights of our profession—to see a project completed,” he said. “You can plan all day long, but to see something built really gives you a source of pride.”
Officers gave tours of the building, stopping to explain each room’s purpose. The stops in order were: a gym, training officer’s office, training classroom, kitchen, supply room, evidence processing, interview rooms, electronic warrant room, evidence storage, patrol officer report room, detective offices, lieutenant and sergeant offices, holding cells, sally port, garage/storage, records, and a conference room.
Standing next to the building’s three holding cells, 79-year-old Powder Springs resident Bob Scheid said: “It really is a nice facility."
He remembered shopping there when it was an Ace Hardware. “It’s so different. They had to do a lot of work.”
Also on Monday, city officials thanked Grace and Michael Janney for donating an American flag to hang in the station’s lobby. The flag contains the names of the couple’s niece and the nearly 3,000 other Americans who died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Check back to Patch Wednesday morning for a video and story.