A five-acre plot of land overgrown with weeds just north of Yosemite Avenue near G Street will one day be the new home of the Merced Police Department.
Monday night, the Merced City Council voted unanimously to approve a purchase agreement for the $1.1 million property as a site for the future police headquarters in order to replace the current building, which is decaying and bursting at the seems.
"It's a much needed facility," said City Councilwoman Mary-Michal Rawling.
Lt. Floyd Higdon, who is heading up the project, said the police department's current headquarters is not only too small but it's in bad shape.
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"We got buckets catching water," he said. Not only does its roof leak, he said, but there just isn't enough room to run the department.
"We don't have a patrol working out of that building," Higdon said. Instead their two shifts work out of the South Merced substation and the North Merced substation.
The site was one of 26 looked at by the city's project committee. Each site was reviewed and scored according to how close it came to 21 criteria, from proximity to the civic center to cost, among other things.
While the council voted to move ahead with the purchase, it will be at least five years until the city has enough money to build the new station, said Higdon.
The project has not reached the design phase yet, but Higdon said the new headquarters will be twice the size of the current building -- about 25,000 square feet -- and should give the police department a new home for at least 25 years, if not longer.
The new building is projected to cost roughly $32 million, said Higdon, but there is no budget to pay for it today.
The fate of the department's current headquarters is unknown, said Higdon. It could be sold or retooled for another use, he said.
The new property, at Mansionette Drive and Yosemite Avenue, is owned by a builder-developer family, based in Fresno.
Before the deal goes through, the city has to conduct an environmental review of the property. If after that assessment the city finds reason to back out of the deal it can do so, according to the purchase agreement.
Reporter Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at (209) 385-2484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.