Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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

Tampa forum focuses on reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system

TAMPA — Changing the way Florida treats juvenile offenders was the focus of Monday night’s public forum on criminal justice reform."We send more children to adult prison than any other state," said Raymer Maguire IV, manager of the ACLU’s Florida Cam...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Residents wonder what’s next after fire destroys Tampa apartments (with video)

Residents wonder what’s next after fire destroys Tampa apartments (with video)

TAMPA — When her apartment complex caught fire Monday afternoon, Peaches McIntyre grabbed her four children and baby stroller and ran outside.Hours later, she looked at the smoldering building with her 5-year-old autistic son, Choice Underwood, huggi...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Mother, sons lose everything in fire -- except her daughter’s urn

Mother, sons lose everything in fire -- except her daughter’s urn

ST. PETERSBURG — The day after a fire claimed most of Jahmeshia Jackson’s possessions, the 27-year-old mother returned to the house she and her sons had escaped, trying to salvage what she could. She hoped her washer and dryer still worked. But most ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

CLEARWATER — A 38-year-old tree trimmer is in critical condition after he was shocked by a power line Monday, according to Clearwater Fire & Rescue.Ernest Harlen, of Largo, was on a ladder cutting trees with a pole saw when he was shocked just before...
Published: 12/11/17
Father of Seminole Heights victim repairing damage after vandals hit son’s memorial

Father of Seminole Heights victim repairing damage after vandals hit son’s memorial

TAMPA — Weeks after burying his son Anthony Naiboa, one of four people gunned down over the span of 51 days in Seminole Heights, Casimar Naiboa has a new and unwanted ritual.He drives past a makeshift memorial his family made for his son, set up wher...
Published: 12/11/17
Bomb strapped to man explodes in New York subway; 3 hurt

Bomb strapped to man explodes in New York subway; 3 hurt

NEW YORK — A man inspired by the Islamic State group set off a crude pipe bomb strapped to his body Monday in a crowded subway corridor near Times Square, injuring the man, slightly wounding three others and sending New York commuters fleeing in terr...
Published: 12/11/17
Lakewood High on lockout after report of weapon on campus

Lakewood High on lockout after report of weapon on campus

Lakewood High in St. Petersburg was placed on lockdown Monday morning following reports of a weapon on campus, but the threat was later downgraded and the school was placed in lockout status instead. St. Petersburg Police spokeswoman Sandra Bentil s...
Published: 12/11/17
Firefighters brace for second week of California wildfires

Firefighters brace for second week of California wildfires

LOS ANGELES — As Southern California enters its second week engulfed in flames, fire officials anticipate more growth and danger due to continued strong wind gusts, no rain and decades-old dry vegetation. A powerful flare-up on the western edge of th...
Published: 12/11/17
Reasons elusive as Pinellas EMS demand skyrockets

Reasons elusive as Pinellas EMS demand skyrockets

When the fire chief asked if anyone in the room had fallen before, a few in the gray- and white-haired crowd raised their hands. One woman lost her footing as she was answering the phone. Another saw a palmetto bug, sprayed it with repellent, then s...
Published: 12/11/17
‘What I am detained for?’ Comedian Hannibal Buress arrested in Miami

‘What I am detained for?’ Comedian Hannibal Buress arrested in Miami

Popular comedian Hannibal Buress was arrested Saturday night in Wynwood on a disorderly intoxication charge after an encounter with a police officer.Buress, 34, was booked into a Miami-Dade jail at 1:57 a.m. Sunday and posted bail just before 6 a.m.,...
Published: 12/10/17