By RACHAEL LONG
A site plan for the city of Brentwood’s new police headquarters was approved by the city’s Planning Commission earlier this month.
The $29 million project has been in the works for years and is not projected for occupancy until the first quarter of 2021.
The proposed site located at 910 Heritage Way is situated just north of the Williamson County Indoor Sports Complex and southwest of The Heritage at Brentwood.
The police headquarters, also known in the plans as the “Public Safety Building,” includes two buildings to be constructed on a 10-acre tract. The headquarters building will be more than 52,000 square feet and the annex building — which will be used for storage and an ambulance station — is proposed to be 5,220 square feet.
The project’s total building area as proposed before the Planning Commission is 57,430 square feet.
The ambulance station is funded and operated through the county, City Manager Kirk Bednar said.
Planning and Codes Director Jeff Dobson told the commission on June 3 that a parking needs assessment was completed as part of the development of the plan. According to that assessment — which projects parking needs until 2040 — a total of 182 future parking spaces are required for 136 fleet, employee and EMS vehicles and 46 spaces for the public.
The proposed site plan provides a total of 195 parking spaces, according to the city’s report. Of the total lot, approximately 64 percent is proposed to remain in permanent green space.
On behalf of an absent commissioner, Planning Commission Chair Janet Donahue asked city staff, “In terms of when you start building, how much emphasis are you going to put on, what you’d call ‘green measures,’ in terms of insulation [and] other sources of power other than standard, like are there going to be solar or anything like that on the property?”
James Kennon, Principal Architect at The Architect Workshop, was present on June 3 to help answer questions. To Donahue, he explained that “green building” has really become a standard practice within a “code minimum building.” Kennon noted that the company investigated geothermal and solar options, but said the return on the investment and payback was something the city determined not to pursue.
“But the overall level of energy efficiency of a building today is significantly more than it was in the early ’90s,” Kennon said.
Donahue also asked about the tree line of “mature trees” on the south side of the building and whether the engineers planned to preserve those trees in order to avoid impacting the neighbors.
Wes Magill, a civil engineer and associate at Ragan-Smith Associates, spoke to commissioners on behalf of the project.
“We are going to try to preserve as many of these trees in this area as possible,” Magill said, pointing to the southeastern-most line of trees.
Pointing to the tree line directly south of the main building on the site plans, Magill said, “Unfortunately, I think the road is going to wipe out that tree line there.”
Magill said the team planned to leave the trees northeast of the building and add a buffer zone “of sorts” between the site and The Heritage at Brentwood.
On behalf of the residents who will live nearby the Public Safety Building, Planning Commissioner Sonna Robinson asked Bednar for clarification on what those residents could expect in terms of noise disturbance.
“Most of our police dispatch response will be from units already on the street,” Bednar said, noting that shift changes or other circumstances might cause units to leave from the headquarters. “But for the most part, I think the expectation was … until they leave the site, we would certainly try to minimize any siren usage. But once they’re on Heritage Way, whether it’s a police car or whether it’s an ambulance, they’ve got certain protocols in terms of safe response and safe driving.”
Bednar said the city would have to follow up on how the ambulance response sirens would impact a noise concern, since the ambulances come from Williamson Medical Center.
“I know, from a fire standpoint, our folks are certainly cognizant when they’re leaving the station at night in proximity to homes, to only use the siren when absolutely necessary,” Bednar said.
Planning Commissioner Brandon Oliver asked city staff if there was any need for signalization at the intersection of Concord Road and Heritage Way to allow emergency vehicles quick passage.
“We haven’t anticipated [any] at this point and time, no,” Bednar said. “We don’t have signal preemption equipment on our signals, where the siren kind of activates it, because in the past they’ve been marginally effective, at best.”
Bednar said the current protocol for emergency safety vehicles is just to slow down and make sure they can safely pass through an intersection.
Bednar noted that because of the slope of the land, the two-story building is really more like a one-story building in the rear. The proposed firing range will essentially be underground, which will help mitigate noise, Bednar said.
Vice Mayor Ken Travis noted that the windows of the building were bulletproof glass, something he said is a benefit to the residents and police officers of Brentwood based on “what continues to happen around the United States.”
The city has been planning for this project for two and a half years, Bednar said, and spent about a year and a half on the design stage. The headquarters is meant to consolidate police operations, including the dispatch center.
Also located at the proposed Public Safety Building will be a “community room,” where court will be held. When not in use as a courtroom, Bednar said the room will be available for public use similar to the John P. Holt Brentwood Library meeting rooms.
“It’s not the best time in the world to be building buildings here in terms of cost in Middle Tennessee,” Bednar said, noting that the costs associated with the project have increased since the city began planning the police headquarters.
A construction manager has been selected, Bednar said, and the city hopes to begin site work in August, with construction of the building later this fall.
No additional review of the police headquarters by the city commission is required at this time, according to the city. Periodic progress updates will be given to the City Commission as the project continues.