by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
SC file photos by Associate Publisher Chuck Larsen
The Sanibel Police Department needs to expand its space at City Hall, but the question City Council asked on Tuesday, April 6 is where’s the best place to relocate it during the two-year renovation project.
Council voted on Tuesday to examine all possibilities, from the current Center 4 Life building, which has been closed since the start of the pandemic last year, to even a third-party rental space. The vote also included looking at alternative locations, and associated costs, for Center 4 Life programming should its building be used.
Sanibel Police Chief Bill Dalton said he would not want the senior’s programs to be negatively effected by the department’s relocation and council agreed that was a priority.
Mayor Holly Smith said she wanted to have all possible relocation options before making a decision. She also said she did not have concern over funding for the two projects. The preliminary budget for the police department modernization is $3.7 million.
The city issued debt for $15 million, of which $5 million was designated for the Center 4 Life project and the remainder for the ongoing sewer plant renovation. There is approximately $3.1 million of the $5 million in the capital project fund that can be used for either project. Additional funding needed to complete both projects has yet to be secured.
In December 2019, the city purchased the former Sanibel Captiva Community Bank building on Library Way for a new and better senior center facility. Center 4 Life, the island’s senior center offering a variety of programs by the Sanibel Recreation Department, has been sharing a small space with the affordable housing organization Community Housing and Resources.
Plans for the police department expansion include building out a new space underneath the City Hall building in the parking overhang. The extra space will house new men’s and women’s locker rooms, and a training room facility. Once completed, the ground floor space currently used as a squad room would be renovated for much-needed office space.
The current police department space does not include facilities for its female staff. Temporary trailers have been used for several years for those staff members. And the issue has grown critical as half of the current command staff is female.
Council will review all possible relocation options for the police department at its meeting in May. And the next step in the Center 4 Life project is designs for the new building.