This decision would also allow time for local citizens to circulate a petition asking GSP officials to reconsider their position about sharing the building with the Polk County Police Department.
Matt Denton, county manager, said the issue has been discussed for about 11 months.
He gave an overview of the process during a special called board meeting Tuesday night.
Denton said that – during fall 2011 - Chairman Marshelle Thaxton and Manager Clinton Lester first met with Georgia Public Safety Director Col. Mark McDonough in Atlanta to discuss joint use of the facility. The idea was that it could be jointly shared by GSP and the Polk County Police Department.
Following months of communication, Col. McDonough sent a final response to board members.
His letter, dated May 23, 2012, was addressed to Chairman Cleve Hartley. He noted:
. . . “Let me make it clear that the Department does not agree with occupying Post 29 as a joint facility. As previously stated, the Department does not intend to vacate the building or terminate the existing agreement.”
Col. McDonough also pointed out that the county “is within its right to unilaterally terminate the use agreement with the Department of Public Safety by giving 60 days notice . . . Within 60 days after the receipt of such notice, the Georgia State Patrol will vacate the building.”
Prior to Tuesday’s called meeting, a public hearing was held following a proposal by Commissioner Jason Ward.
Several people voiced opinions regarding the proposal. They objected to GSP leaving Polk and expressed concern about response time to wrecks and/or other emergency situations. Most were surprised that it was being considered and asked the reason for this logic.
Chairman Cleve Hartley said the board is not asking GSP to leave.
“We are asking them to share the facility,” he said. “They will have their portion and we will share the other half. We must find more room for our county police. We believe this is the best option rather than spending $1.5 million for a new facility. It would cost about $600,000 to reconfigure the building.”
Commissioner Ward said this represents a $900,000 savings to Polk taxpayers.
He pointed out it would also free up money for investment in Economic Development and other needed infrastructure.
Other options listed by Ward include building a smaller facility more in-line with the space requirements of the GSP based on new technology, or finding an existing facility to retrofit for their use.
Meanwhile, several citizens voiced their determination to start circulating a petition asking GSP officials to change their position about sharing the building.