Projects underway at Public Safety Complex

By HASKEL BURNS,

Three simultaneous construction components are underway at the location of the upcoming Hattiesburg Public Safety Complex, marking a good start to the Hall Street site that will serve as new home to the Hattiesburg Police Department and municipal court.

Mayor Toby Barker said workers are approximately 60 percent done with restoration of the former Methodist hospital building – including HVAC, wiring and plumbing – allowing for exterior renovation. In addition, the steel is being installed for the building that will house the majority of the police department.

Finally, the foundation for the entire project is now complete, including the underground infrastructure and the foundation itself.

“To see the project on schedule and on budget is something you always want to see, particularly in these early phases,” Barker said. “When steel goes up, people get excited, and I think it bodes well for the future of that area, particularly when you factor in all the other projects going in around the police station.

“We’ve tried to plan out every detail, both in construction and financing, so we hope that we stay on track in all aspects.”

The Hattiesburg Public Safety Complex project, which has been discussed for the last several years as a solution to the police department’s aging facilities, took its first official step in September 2016 when municipal court moved from the Hall Street site to its temporary location in the former federal courthouse on West Pine Street. That move was followed by the Parks and Recreation Department, which moved from Katie Avenue to a new location at Tatum Park, allowing HPD’s dispatch to move temporarily into the Katie Avenue Building.

LIFE of Mississippi, which was located adjacent to the former HPD building, then moved into a new location on West 7th Street before HPD staff moved into their temporary location on Klondyke Street.

Demolition on the Hall Street site was completed late last year – minus the former Methodist hospital section, which will stay intact – and HPD and municipal court will move into the new facility as soon as it is available. Construction is expected to last about 30 months, with officials hoping for completion by late 2021.

“(The Klondyke Street) building is a very functional building for what we need that building to be right now,” Barker said. “We know that whenever the police department transitions back to the facility at Hall and Edwards, that (Klondyke location) will be a very usable space for other municipal services.”

Construction on the Hattiesburg Public Safety Complex is being handled by Hanco Corporation of Hattiesburg for approximately $26.5 million.

“I thought about a time in the late 1990s when I worked in (the former) facility for Chief Charlie Sims, and this building was not a healthy building,” Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado said in a previous story. “So when we think in terms of the Hattiesburg Police Department and all that it does for our community, we certainly owe them a healthy and safe place for them to provide the services that they provide to this community.

“So I am honored that we are able to give them this facility that will enable them to continue the great work that they already doing. This facility will also serve as an anchor to this community that will hopefully attract other development that will help to beautify this area.”