At Thursday’s Lubbock City Council meeting, the council chose to award a contract to a local engineering and architecture firm to do a study on the future needs of the police department.

The $59,800 contract with Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper is to survey the existing conditions of the Municipal Square building, which houses the police department, and to assist in determining facility needs of the police department for the future.

Lubbock City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld made it clear to the council that the study is not aimed at determining problems with the current building.

“This is not an effort to go back and establish the fact that the current station is almost uninhabitable. This is a forward-looking analysis,” Dumbauld elaborated.

As for criticism that the nearly $60,000 study was only to tell the City what they already knew, Dumbauld rebutted, saying “One of the things we want Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper to analyze and be able to explain to the public who’s paying the tab here, is that the current station cannot be renovated, or perhaps it can…that will be a very quick review.”

Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper will cover a very brief analysis of the current building, then research and submit four potential locations around Lubbock for a new police station.

According to City staff, very little documentation will need to be gathered for analysis of the current police station, and the analysis could take as little as two hours to complete, Dumbauld estimated.

District 5 Councilwoman Karen Gibson made it clear that she intended to support the contract, but did not see the need in analyzing the current department.

“Ms. Dumbauld said that the existing building will be a quick rundown of what it is. We know that building is sick, we know we need a new one,” Gibson said. “I’m not understanding why we have to have a report on it, when we know we’re not going to be there. I don’t understand why we have to spend money on that.”

Mayor Martin spoke in support of a study on the current facilities, using them as a method of educating the public on the present condition of the police station.

“There will be people in this community that will be opposed to this project simply because it is a city project…We know how bad that department is, we’ve been in the building and we’ve seen it, but the public routinely doesn’t have access to the inside of the building,” Martin said.

Gibson also took issue with the omission of a study on asbestos and hazardous material abatement within the current facility, in the event that the Municipal Square building is razed.

District 4 City Councilman Paul R. Beane said that he could not support the contract, as he finds much of the study unnecessary.

“I’m a little at odds on some of the explanations that I’ve received here today, that Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper is going to talk to the police department and determine their needs and then come back and tell us what the needs of the police department are,” Beane explained. “I guess my simpleton approach to this is, why don’t we just ask the police department what their needs are and cut out the middleman?”

The mayor disagreed with Beane’s approach.

“I’ve been through the process of building a new police station. This is not my first rodeo, and I can tell you, it is a very complex issue, and it takes the services of an architect to even begin the planning process,” Martin said.

In regards to another possible downtown location, Martin said that he believes that it is unlikely that a possible new police station would be located there, citing building size and the amount of parking which would be required, rendering a downtown site cost-prohibitive.

The contract was approved 5 to 1, Beane dissenting, and District 3 Councilman Todd Klein absent.