A project to put a parole office in a new public safety building proposed in the Argentine area moved forward tonight.
About 30 people turned out at a Unified Government Standing Committee meeting in support of the idea for a new public safety building on the grounds of the old Structural Steel site in the Argentine area.
The public safety building also would include a new South Patrol police station.
UG Commissioner Ann Murguia presented the idea to the committee, and the committee voted 6-0 to move the idea forward.
Murguia said she had held a community meeting with Argentine neighborhood leaders recently, and there was no opposition at the meeting.
The site of the public safety building office would be on a large site being developed near 21st and Metropolitan Avenue, where there is a Walmart Neighborhood Market being built. Not far from it is a new Save a Lot grocery store.
The public safety building would be on an environmentally remediated site, as it was a former silver smelting facility.
Murguia said the cost of a public safety building would be about $6 million, and it would be large enough to house more than the police station.
Over the next 20 years, she is estimating that Walmart will generate about $3 million in extra revenues for the community, leaving a $3 million gap. With a lease from the state for the parole office, $2 million over a 10-year period, that would bring the gap closer to $1 million, she said.
While in one sense the funding would come from outside the taxpayers, it will not all be realized until the end of a decade or two, and so the UG would need to fund the building through bonds or a note. Murguia added that she would continue seeking grant funding for the project, and has already asked the Walmart Foundation for a grant.
The parole office earlier tried to move from its current location not far from 18th and I-70 to a new location at 7th and State Avenue, next to a child care center. That proposal met with considerable community opposition.
Rep. Val Winn led an effort in the state Legislature to defund any parole office location that is next to a child care center.
Murguia said the state’s lease is up in July at its present location for the parole office, but the state would see if it could extend it through the rest of the year.
In the future, as the idea for the public safety building progresses, more community meetings will be held to receive public comments, according to Murguia.
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