The Meridian City Council was prepared to vote Tuesday on a new lease for the renovation project for the new police station, but that plan was brought to a screeching halt! Council president, Barbara
Henson, says the issue was taken off Tuesday's agenda because council members had not received a copy of the new proposed lease agreement within enough time to properly review it.
'Our attorneys, the mayor's office, everyone on this end has complete what they recommend and put it in writing, but we have not had the agreement of Mr. Watkins, or any of his proposals. I don't have it and they (other city officials) don't have it either. When they e-mail them or fax them there's a change here and a change there and by the time we get them it's too late for a public meeting.'
Because of a lack of funds and bonding capacity, the renovation effort is the first ever lease to purchase project for the city of Meridian. What this means is that currently the city does not have any direct control over the project. The city will only gain control of what happens at the building when the renovations are finished and it starts paying rent.
Meanwhile, once the project gets the green light, Councilwoman Henson says officials with Watkins Development, which is the consulting firm overseeing the project, say the work should go smoothly.
'From what Mr. Watkins told us, now we have a local contractor and that's going to work out good and of course it's financed by a local bank.'
Stalled since earlier this year, Henson says if the council approves the new lease, when Tuesday's recessed meeting continues Friday, work can resume immediately.
'When I have that paper in my hands, I'll be optimistic.'
The site for the new Meridian Police Department is the old Cowboy Maloney's building on 22nd Avenue. Renovations started a little over a year ago, but were halted due to money woes and a delay in tax credits earlier this year. The project was initially set to be finished by spring of this year.