A new police DNA crime lab once planned for a former west Nashville car lot will now be in Madison, according to the mayor’s office.
Mayor Karl Dean announced plans Tuesday morning to locate the lab and a new police precinct at the former Peterbilt manufacturing facility at 430 Myatt Drive. Dean’s capital spending plan, filed with the Metro Council Friday, included $6.6 million to go toward the $16 million price of the 66-acre property.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority would contribute $9.4 million of the property cost, while another $10 million had been set aside from the capital plan for renovations needed to build out the police precinct.
“This is a good deal,” Dean said. “We’re purchasing a lot of property and a large building that we can make use of over time at a very good price.”
Dean said the need for a Madison Precinct also weighed heavily in the decision to reuse the Peterbilt property. Along with the new precinct and crime lab, the Special Operations Division and eventually the Records Division would also be relocated there.
The good news for North Precinct Cmdr. Anthony Carter and citizens, said Police Chief Steve Anderson, is the Madison Precinct would basically split his 189 square miles of territory in half, allowing both precincts to concentrate resources on community police work.
“I think this Madison Precinct will allow us to narrow our focus, narrow our enforcement and narrow our community efforts,” Carter said.
But staffing and the allotment of police resources hasn’t fully been sorted out yet.
Fifty newly sworn-in officers available through the COPS grant would go to staffing the Madison Precinct with about 10 more officers pulled from the other precincts rounding out the ranks.
Anderson said it takes about 60 officers to staff a precinct, so the department will also have to find more officers to staff a new south Nashville Precinct also budgeted for in the capital plan.
“We’ll work with that 50 [from the COPS grant] and go forward,” Anderson said, later adding that at some point the department would ask for additional staffing.
City officials originally wanted the crime lab to be included in a new West Precinct at 5500 Charlotte Pike but now say the Peterbilt site would protect the Richland Creek Watershed next to the Charlotte property, provide more work space at the West Precinct and allow for a larger crime lab that is closer to the department’s evidence facility.
The 42,500 square feet of what is now a high-bay building similar to an airplane hangar would be split into two floors, essentially doubling the floor space, with 31,000 square feet set aside for the new crime lab. That’s about 6,000 more square feet available for the crime lab than would have been at the Charlotte Pike location.
About 15,000 square feet would go to the precinct; 14,000 square feet would be set aside for SOD; and a remaining 18,000 square feet would be reserved for the Records Division.
MTA and Metro police will share a smaller building with the Madison Precinct’s community room on the first floor and MTA’s administrative offices on the second and third floors.
MTA will move its heavy maintenance operation into a massive 400,0000-square-foot building on the property, though some maintenance personnel will remain at the Nestor Street property for light maintenance work.
The police Traffic and School Crossing Guard units would move to the new precinct from their present location at Metro Southeast near the airport. The SWAT unit, Hazardous Devices and Emergency Contingency Unit will also move to the Madison Precinct from the Donelson Middle School property.
Dean said the state of the economy and real estate market produced a good opportunity for the city to purchase and reuse a facility that’s sitting empty and unused.
“Here we’re making an investment that we need to make in the Madison-Goodlettsville area for a new precinct in and existing building where there’s nothing going on right now.”
With another 13 acres set aside for possible future expansion on the property, Dean added, “It’s a great opportunity for the city going forward. … We have an investment where I think we can have some economic development out this way.”
The new precinct could be ready to open in 12 to 18 months.