Pembroke has changed course on its long-planned public safety building.
Now, rather than build a new facility near the old Bryan County Elementary School for somewhere between $6 and $7 million, city leaders have decided to build a new city hall and turn the current city hall into its police headquarters.
The new city hall will cost an estimated $1.5-$2.5 million and will be located on city owned property at the intersection of Highway 67 and Strickland Street.
“This will allow the city to utilize already existing property, funding and resources,” Pembroke City Administrator Alex Floyd said. “It will allow us to expand our police department under one roof and opens up a world of possibilities for the former Board of Education property between Highway 67 and Ash Branch Road.”
Floyd said Pembroke’s current city hall was built in 1977 and remodeled in the early 2000s. Its location between two state highways - 67 and 119 - as well as its fireproof records room make it ideal for a police station, he said and it’s already home to city court.
“If I was to design a police station from scratch it would look remarkably similar to the City Hall building.”
Floyd also noted putting the police station next to Pembroke’s Fire Station No. 1 creates “a de-facto Public Safety Complex.” In addition, Pembroke opened a second fire station earlier this year in the old Georgia Forestry building on Garrison Street, which has alleviated some need for more room for the department.
Pembroke officials have been discussing building such a complex for several years, and came close to appointing a construction manager at meetings earlier this year.
City officials, however, have privately questioned whether the city could spend more than $6 million on the building.
Pembroke’s police department is currently housed in a two-story building on Railroad Street, blocks away from the current city hall and fire station.
Floyd said the Bacon- Carney property, as the site of a proposed city hall is called, is both visible and will give the city the ability to create a drive-thru at which residents can pay utility bills rather than have to go inside.
There are already plans to create a veterans park on the 2-1/2 acre property, and those plans will be incorporated landscaping plan for the new city hall.
“We also believe that the residential neighborhood and street there is more conducive to a city hall than an operating police station and court,” Floyd added.
He said investments already made on the former Board of Education site will be useful as infrastructure such as roads is concerned.
“The wetlands delineation, surveys, soil boring, etc are all costs that can be referenced for future projects or passed on to a developer,” Floyd said.
The city could have plans for a new city hall by the first of 2020.
Also at Monday’s meeting, council voted to approve raises for future mayors and councils. State law prohibits local officials from voting for their own pay raises, but if re-elected those same officials will be paid at the higher rate.
Under the new pay scale, starting Jan. 1 the mayor will be paid $600 per month, up from $400 monthly. Similarly, council members’ monthly pay will go from $200 to $400 a month.
All of Pembroke’s elected officials are up for re-election.