Police officers in Homestead are getting a step closer to breathing clean air while on duty as the city council on Wednesday moved forward with the design for the new police headquarters.
Homestead police station has been housed since 1981 in a 103-year-old building that has mold, clogged water drains, water damage and radon gas levels five times higher than they should be, which can cause lung cancer from prolonged exposure.
Although it will take a few years for the new police station to be up and running, officers will soon leave the old station and move to a temporary location in the Homestead Sports Complex, a baseball stadium a few miles further east in the city than where police has always been located.
“It’s going to be a blessing. We’ll be able to breathe,” said Police Chief Al Rolle, who has been working there for more than 30 years.
Wednesday night, the city council approved the design by architecture firm Rodriguez and Quiroga for a new police headquarters, Bids are out for a construction manager at risk and will be returned in February.
After this phase is completed, the city will break ground on the project.
Residents approved a bond referendum in May 2014 to increase the property tax bill by 82 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value to raise $18 million for a new police station and $3 million to set up a temporary police station in the sports complex.
The new station will be the first real police building built in the city. It will be three stories and double the space, with about 55,000 square feet.
“The [old] building was never built to be a true police station,” Rolle said. When built, it was actually a bank.
The new headquarters will be just a block away from the old building, behind Losner Park in the city’s historic downtown.
“We’ve been put at ease now that we are going to move,” Rolle said. “We are working to do what is right for the community and now the community is working to do what is right for us.”