Last-minute effort launched to block new State Police HQ
By HAYLEY OUTSLAY
Capital News Service
LANSING— State Police headquarters may move from space leased from Michigan State University for $1 a year to a multi-million dollar facility in downtown Lansing.
But not if Republican challengers have their way, including Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who introduced 11th hour legislation to block construction of the building.
There are 51 co-sponsors in the House, among them Tim Moore, R-Farwell; Bill Caul, R-Mount Pleasant; Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township; and Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan.
Moore said, “We need state troopers on the road and in our communities, not a headquarters building that is unnecessary.
“Lawmakers have been working to balance spending budgets by reducing spending, and then there’s this project that will use $100 million of taxpayers’ money. It’s wasteful spending, and it needs to be stopped,” he said.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has approved the move despite the $3.7 million annual price tag.
A private contractor is building the new headquarters and will lease it to the state.
“Opposition has to do with timing and economic conditions,” said State Police press officer Shannon Akans, “It’s at a time when budgets are very tight.”
Jones heads the law enforcement legislative caucus, consisting of Republicans and Democrats, and said more than 200 active and retired police officers have contacted him to oppose the move.
“These men and women know what they need and say they are just fine,” he said.
“They say current headquarters are adequate until there is enough funding to put it in an appropriate place,” he said. Putting the state’s “head of homeland security” in a central city is a “foolish thing to do,” he added. “It should be located in a safe and secure compound.”
The proposed downtown Lansing property is partially on a flood plain and won’t be able to accommodate the necessary helicopter pad, emergency operations center or warehouse, he said.
Akans said that the East Lansing headquarters was built in 1929 and needs maintenance upgrades. The current location has “very antiquated” heating, cooling and electrical systems, and a modern facility would provide “amenities and flexibility,” she added.
Discussion of a location change began in the 1970s, Akans said, and the downtown Lansing project has been in the works for more than five years.
Jones said necessary maintenance should be done on the building, which he says is structurally sound and is available to rent from MSU until 2030.
Jones said, “Within a couple of days [of introducing legislation] the developers got their bulldozers out and started moving earth around because they don’t want the project to stop.”
The completion of the building is estimated to be in 2009.
Caul said, “Sometime in the future it may be appropriate to look at this again, but given the state economy and budget issues, it is not appropriate at this time.”
|Download a Microsoft Word version of this story here.
© 2007, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism