Longview police station rendering.jpg

The new, finished Longview Police Department is seen in this rendering. The City Council awarded a $23.8 contract Thursday for the construction of the facility.

The Longview City Council voted Thursday to award a $23.8 million contract to a Flint-based construction firm to build the new Longview Police Department.

WRL General Contractors is expected to begin work in the first part of 2021 on the facility that will be on West South Street near the existing police department. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2022, city officials said Thursday.

“The new police department is going to be a state-of-the-art facility designed specifically for police operations,” Police Chief Mike Bishop said. “Once completed, it will provide spacing for all members of the department to be housed in one facility ... With technology continually advancing, it will help us advance our technology so that we can better address community concerns when addressing crime-related issues.”

The council voted 5-1 on Thursday to award the construction contract to WRL. District 6 Councilman Steve Pirtle cast the dissenting vote. District 2 Councilwoman Nona Snoddy was absent. Council members Ed Moore, Wray Wade, Kristen Ishihara and David Wright as well as Mayor Andy Mack voted in favor of awarding the contract.

The new police department will be a three-story, 74,300-square-foot facility. Larger than the current police station’s 31,000 square feet, the new facility is being designed to accommodate growth for the next 35 years, city spokesman Shawn Hara said.

With an existing force of up to 234 employees, including officers, dispatchers, records and other personnel, the new facility will accommodate staffing growth up to 296 employees, Hara said.

The new facility will feature a larger space for dispatch services, evidence storage, patrol offices, more conference rooms, office space, investigations division and an exercise room.

“The construction will occur on a 7-acre lot that includes the police building, added storage space, secure parking, landscaping and miscellaneous work as necessary to complete the construction,” he said.

Municipal Court will remain in the existing Police Department building, which will later receive some renovations to include office space for the city’s human resources and Partners in Prevention, Hara said.

The new police department is funded by a $104 million bond package that city taxpayers approved in 2018. The bond election included $52.4 million worth of public safety facility improvements, including $33.4 designated for a new police department.

The $23.8 million bid awarded Thursday to WRL for construction only accounts for a portion of the bond money set aside for the police department. The remaining police department bond funds have been and are being used for property acquisition, design and equipping the new facility with furniture, fixtures and equipment, Hara said.

Dwayne Archer, assistant director of public works, noted that the $23,875,100 contract with WRL is a 14.6%, or almost $2 million, savings from what the city had originally budgeted for construction. WRL was the low bidder out of eight bids received during a sealed bidding process.

Casey Beddingfield, CEO of RLM General Contractors, spoke during public comment at the council meeting to say that WRL had written on the outside of its bid envelope that it would reduce its price by an additional $450,000. Beddingfield, who said such an action is common in construction, recommended the city accept the bid only if it included the additional cost savings.

Pirtle, in explaining his dissenting vote, said he wanted to see the city accept the bid only if the additional $450,000 was reduced from the total amount to save taxpayers additional money.

Mack said, and City Attorney Jim Finley agreed, the city could not consider the note on the outside of the envelope. The bid process was intended as a sealed process, and Mack noted it cannot be verified who wrote the notation.