JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin city leaders are considering options for a new headquarters for city emergency responders.
“We have an opportunity with the taxpayers’ permission, of course, to completely revamp the fire station and the police station downtown and the courts that meet in those buildings. They’re just, they’re old,” said Doug Lawson, Joplin mayor.
The Joplin City Council is looking at different proposals to build or remodel space for the Joplin Justice Center.
“We need more space. And if we follow through with one of the plans we’ve been presented, we will have more space for the police, the fire, the courts. Have the opportunity to expand the size of the jail – wish we didn’t need it,” said Lawson.
All three are currently housed in a building that’s more than 50 years old, and a lack of jail space is just one item on a growing list of issues.
“The Sallyport, a firing range so the officers can maintain their proficiency with firearms. Right now, you know they have to go someplace else,” said Lawson.
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There’s an ongoing project to identify a possible replacement likely on the same area north of Third and Pennsylvania.
“We want to make things as easy for citizens that want to come to the visitor police station or the fire station or have appointments in the courts. So it’s a challenge,” said Lawson.
And then there’s the price tag, which is expected to be anywhere from 30 million to 65 million dollars.
“It’s expensive. And the council is very much aware of that. You know, we don’t want to just blow the money that the city invests in our city,” said Lawson.
Council members are also still discussing the different ways to pay that bill.
That could include some share of sales tax revenue.
“The capital improvement tax. It may involve trying to add an eighth of a percent to that tax; it may involve extending it. Normally we try to go for 10 years; we may ask the voters to approve 10 years or 20 years,” said Lawson.
The city council hasn’t made any final decisions and would consider any potential changes that could lower costs.
“The architects of the two proposals that we were looking at are going to look again and see if there are any modifications they can make,” said Lawson.
Joplin Mayor Doug Lawson says the end goal is the best use of the space… and overall safety in Joplin.
“What’s best for the police and fire is what’s best for the city of Joplin, and that’s what we’re looking for,” said Lawson.