AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)– Monday night, the Aiken City Council held a special meeting to talk about moving public safety into the old food lion on Beaufort Street, which would be nearly twice the size of its current home.
Aiken City council approved the purchase agreement at the meeting. Initially, the plan was to renovate Aiken Public Safety’s current building, but that all changed when council saw the price.
The Aiken Department of Public Safety houses both police officers and firefighters. After 40 years and nearly double the number of employees, the department is moving to a 40,000 square foot facility– that’s double the size of the current. Chief Barranco says it’s much needed.
“Investigators are in closets. Evidence is to the ceiling and spilling out onto floors. We have multiple people in single offices, so really to have the space to do the work to best serve our community,” Chief Barranco of Aiken Public Safety said.
He said the men and women who serve our community all share one shower. Many go home to wash off instead, bringing harmful carcinogens to their families.
The new facility, located where the old Food Lion was on Beaufort Street, will cost a little more than 10 million dollars. The city and developers agree taking an old eye sore and turning it into an asset people are proud saves money for tax payers.
“It was really a collaborative, team effort with the city. They had contemplated rebuilding on the current location and it was becoming very costly and expensive,” Jason Long with South Eastern Development said.
“Well, when we had our first assessment of our building, of course they needed more space. Really the only option given at the time was looking at that same location which is only 1.33 acres I believe. Moving to a campus of almost 11 acres will give us opportunity to grow into the future as well,” Chief Barranco said.
If everything goes as planned, Long said the project will be complete in April of 2019.
“When somebody comes to your home, you should be proud to show it off, and our officers will be proud to show this off,” Chief Baranco concluded.
Next Monday, Aiken City Council will hold the final reading of the financing of that purchase.