A nearly $20 million contract to construct new police and fire headquarters was given unanimous approval by the Huntsville City Council on Tuesday, nearly three years after voters gave the city approval.

The $19,506,231 contract to Flintco LLC. of Houston, was approved by an 8-0 vote. The company offered the lowest of seven bids.

The city’s original plan for the police and fire station was to turn the site of the former Ella Smither Geriatric Institute into a police and fire station compound. However, legal threats got in the way and the city chose to build the police headquarters at the intersection FM 2821 and Rosenwall Road and the fire station on Sam Houston Avenue.

“Since the first reading of the ordinance at the last meeting, the staff has gone through value engineering which will account for a 1% savings off of the original bid,” city manager Aron Kulhavy said of a savings estimated at $192,769.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held next Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. on the site of the new police headquarters, located at 550 FM 2821 across from the Walker County Jail. The public is invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony.

One of the major desires for the new headquarters is to provide a more secure facility for officers, equipment, vehicles and the public. The two-story, 40,000 square-foot building will be built with the main floor below public access level. The facility will include new administration, investigation and uniform services offices. It will also house a new evidence vault and large training areas.

The new fire station will be built in the place of the current Fire Station No. 2, which was originally a city swimming pool and constructed in the 1930’s under the Works Progress Administration. The new 16,750 square-foot fire facility will include administration, training and fire truck bay areas.

The police and fire station projects are expected to be complete 398 calendar days from the issuance of a notice to proceed, which is scheduled to be issued by November 2020.

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