Former Venice police station converted into a public works facility
VENICE – Venice Public Works staff cut the ribbon on Wednesday on their new home, the former Venice Police Station, which was refitted after more than eight months of work – shared between contractor JE Charlotte and staff of public works itself.
Public Works Director James Clinch and Deputy Director Rick Simpson thanked the contractor for working transparently with the public works staff, whose input helped reduce the ultimate cost of renovating their home. new home at $ 750,000.
Clinch noted that a feasibility study for the conversion of the building at 1350 Ridgewood Ave., which opened in 1990 as a Venice police station and annex to the South Sarasota County Jail, set the price at $ 4.6 million.
Subsequent cuts brought the projected cost down to $ 2.5 million, with the city likely relying heavily on loans to finance the work.
“We encountered an unprecedented budget environment last year and it goes without saying that we have sharpened our pencils again,” said Clinch.
Police in Venice moved to a new station on Avenue de Venise in September 2020, although no ribbon cuts have occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening of the new police station was recognized in a flag raising ceremony as part of the 9/11 memorial service.
JE Charlotte and his sub-contractors took care of some major aspects of the work, such as breaking down walls, laying ceilings and building a vehicle warehouse at the north end of the property.
But, Clinch noted, the sweaty fairness of the public works workforce was a big part of keeping the project in the $ 750,000 price bracket.
“It only happened through the efforts of the men and women here,” said Clinch, referring to several workers in neon yellow public works shirts, who attended the small dedication ceremony.
This teamwork effort is illustrated on the new Public Works facilities panel by a set of interlocking gears.
This pattern is reproduced on panels throughout the facility which is shared by both parks and maintenance workers.
“The gears are intentional,” Clinch said. “Just think that one gear doesn’t do much – it spins.
“But if we all work together and become a well-oiled machine, we can do amazing things. That’s what you all did with this building.
Solid waste staff still work at the old public works facility at 221 Seaboard Ave. But, Clinch noted, they have more room to work and the city is looking to move the facility off of Seaboard Avenue. and closer to Sarasota County. dump on Knights Trail Road.
“We are looking for properties right now; we fund a land reserve fund every year so we can move to a new location, ”Clinch said.
City officials are hoping to one day make the Seaboard Avenue property available to spur economic development south of the Venice Avenue Bridge on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway.
But Wednesday – the city’s first major ribbon cut since the COVID-19 pandemic – was the time to tell stories about the old facility and celebrate the new.
As Clinch guided visitors on a tour, he could proudly point out a conference table that cost around $ 200 to make from re-used lumber to form an old pole barn.
Repurposed wood and one inch pipe for office space in the room once used by the Venice police.
A bit of the old police station also remained.
“For the police officers who are here, you will be delighted to know that the spooky prison cells are still there,” Clinch said during her opening speech. “We didn’t remove that, we wanted to keep them as part of the building.”
Maintenance crew chief Dan Tucci later noted that the cell block doors had indeed unfolded.
“They weigh 198 pounds each,” Tucci said. “It was fun getting them to do it.”
Retired Venice Police Chief Jim Hanks, now a deacon at Epiphany Cathedral, opened the ceremony with an invocation and received a memento from Clinch – a Gideon Bible from one of the cells.
“Every prison cell has one of these things,” Hanks said, then after noting his age he added, “I bet this is probably from the old prison.”
Tucci, Parks Team Leader Scot Marra and Simpson all recalled the makeshift spirit of public works operations from the Seaboard installation.
Marra called the new facility the icing on the cake.
“We have room to spread out, we don’t step on top of each other,” he added.
City Manager Ed Lavallee noted that the skills of public works workers are frequently on display throughout the city.
“Finally, the fruits of their labor benefit them more directly,” Lavallee said. “The fingerprints of the public works department of the city of Venice are everywhere.”
Earle Kimel primarily covers southern Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be contacted at [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.