Saturday, June 23, 2018
Public safety

AC system at St. Pete police annex couldn't hold out

ST. PETERSBURG — Officials knew the day would come when the cobbled-together cooling system at the aging police annex building finally died.

Everyone just hoped it would make it until a new headquarters was built. The agency wasn't that lucky.

Several weeks ago, the air-conditioning unit faltered, then gave out completely. Employees who work in the 1930s building at 13th Street and First Avenue N dealt with a makeshift solution that included several portable AC units rounded up from other city departments.

Now a stopgap measure to cool the building until a new $40 million headquarters is built — which could be two years or more away — will cost taxpayers at least $90,000.

"We didn't want to put any more money into it," said Mike McDonald, the department's assistant director for administrative services. "Unfortunately we have to bite the bullet on this one."

More than two dozen people work at the annex building, which also houses the forensics unit.

"Creature comforts are one thing, but I have equipment and chemicals that have to be cool," said Sgt. Ray Waldo, who heads the unit. "I was dealing with 90 degrees in here."

The building's cooling system was recommended for replacement years ago. Rust covers many of the pipes. City maintenance workers have attended to it as best they can.

"The vendors won't even work on it because they're afraid it will break," McDonald said.

Officials, knowing that a new building was in the works, deferred an overhaul.

But when it became clear that even the tiny portable units weren't working a few weeks ago, city officials decided the best thing was to order a new unit, which will cost about $78,000.

While that is being built — from scratch so it can be retrofitted to the old building — officials decided they needed something better, especially for the forensics unit.

They have rented a 60-ton chiller, which sits in the building's parking lot. The chiller will cost $4,000 a month. McDonald said it is expected to be in place for three to four months.

Mike Connors, the city's public works administrator, said it was more prudent to buy the new AC unit than rent one monthly because it is still unclear when the new station will be complete.

And, he said, officials ultimately hope to recycle the unit.

"I would expect we would be able to reuse it at other city locations," Connors said. The leisure services department is to inherit the chiller, he said.

Meanwhile, city staffers continue to negotiate with Harvard Jolly, an architectural and engineering firm, for the headquarters project.

Connors said he hopes to bring something to the City Council by March. The board will have to approve the negotiated price for the project to proceed.

"Our objective is to get the best price for taxpayers," Connors said.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.

Comments
FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

A Clearwater man who authorities said sideswiped a car while driving more than 100 miles per hour the wrong way on U.S. 41 was arrested Friday. Wendel Jamel James, 35, is charged with DUI with property damage, reckless driving and leaving the scene ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

TAMPA — Police want to know who shot 14-year-old De’Nico Thomas after a night of playing video games.Thomas was at a friend’s home Wednesday night and walking home when Tampa police said he was shot, resulting in life-threatening injuries.As he faces...
Published: 06/22/18
Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

CLEARWATER — Police detectives are searching for a man coined the "Bic Bandit" based on reports that he’s stolen dozens of lighters from the same 7-Eleven.According to Clearwater police, the man has swiped the lighters four times in the last month, t...
Published: 06/22/18
FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

DADE CITY — A Dade City man was killed and three others were seriously injured after a pickup truck and motorcycle crashed head-on Friday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Floyd Williamson, 72, of Lakeland, was driving northbound on U....
Published: 06/22/18
Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Georgia detectives on Friday recovered the body of Mitzi Marie Babb, a 43-year-old Hernando park ranger who had been missing since Tuesday.Her boyfriend, arrested Thursday on unrelated charges, has been called a person of interest in her disappearanc...
Published: 06/22/18
A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

PORT RICHEY — A 41-year-old Uber driver was arrested Friday after police said he pointed a firearm at another driver because he was annoyed that she was texting and driving.Philip Macchio was driving near State Road 52 and U.S. 19 around 12:30 a.m. F...
Published: 06/22/18
Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

A 28-year-old cheerleading coach faces charges for engaging in "inappropriate behavior" with a 16-year-old girl, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Victor Martin Valenty faces 10 counts of traveling to meet a minor, distributing ob...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

FORT LAUDERDALE — Authorities in Florida have arrested a suspect in the killing of rising rap star XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in his luxury BMW electric car as he left an upscale motorcycle dealership. Dedrick Devonshay Williams, 22, o...
Published: 06/21/18
St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

ST. PETERSBURG — Three lieutenants responsible for supervising the police officers who patrol the city were found to have been faking their work hours instead of showing up for duty on time.In some cases, the watch commanders submitted time sheets st...
Published: 06/21/18
Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

A Suntrust Bank in Zephyr-hills was robbed early Thursday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.At 12:50 p.m., deputies said, the man walked into the bank at 34511 State Road 54 and presented a note demanding money, though he did ...
Published: 06/21/18