Turlock approves site plan, more money for Public Safety Center

TURLOCK ---The City Council approved Tuesday night the site plan for the new Public Safety Center and added $2.8 million to the project’s budget, raising its cost to nearly $38 million.

The additional money will go toward street improvements, such as paving streets and repairing gutters and sidewalks surrounding the new two-story law enforcement center, which will be built on Broadway Avenue near the Carnegie Arts Center.

“The roads are terrible,” Police Chief Gary Hampton said. “We’re holding ourselves to the same standard we would hold a private developer to.”

Both votes were unanimous.

The City Council began planning for a new public safety center in 2007, as part of a three-year strategic plan that aims to modernize and expand public safety.

The 4.6-acre police campus on Palm Street is made up of two buildings, built in 1961 and 1964, and remodeled in the late 1990s after a new City Hall was built on Broadway Avenue.

Arts enthusiasts and downtown property owners accepted the idea of putting the new station next to the Carnegie Arts Center, which police said was set on fire in November 2005 by burglars attempting to cover their tracks, but noted that it would be at the expense of their larger vision of an arts-centric community on North Broadway Avenue.

The City Council has approved a $9.3 million renovation plan that morphs the Carnegie ruins into an 18,360-square-foot building, including a 3,070-square-foot visual arts gallery.

The council also voted Tuesday night to extend Hampton’s contract through September 2012. Hampton said he wants to see the results of the Police Department’s three-year strategic plan. He also quashed rumors that he was using the Turlock position as a steppingstone to another job.

“My heart is in Turlock,” he said. “I want to retire here as your police chief.”

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.