Jonesboro wants to replace ‘big piece of junk’

Police storage facility is moldy, leaky wildlife refuge

— The ceiling in the Jonesboro Police Department’s storage facility is blackened from mold, according to city public works Director Joe Nettleton.

Water leaks from the roof and drops down on the department’s supply of guns and ammunition.

Families of squirrels have made themselves at home inside the walls of the building commonly known as the “Dog House,” said Lt. Tony Lumpkin.

City officials don’t pretend to be nice when they describe the two-story building’s condition. They won’t shy away from effectively calling it a big ugly yurt with a lean-to on the side that serves as something akin to a make-shift garage.

“Essentially, it’s a big piece of junk,” said Councilman Randy Segner.

Mayor Joy Day added, “It’s just a substandard building — it always has been.”

She later compared putting a new roof on it to “putting a big bow on a goat.”

With those kinds of opinions about the structure floating around, perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that City Council members didn’t bat an eyelash Monday when Nettleton proposed replacing it with a new facility that would be sturdier and less ugly.

The majority of them actually welcomed the idea.

The facility brings up an issue the city has been grappling with involving repairs. The city has been doing patchwork repair jobs on its facilities and equipment for years. In recent months, officials have begun to say enough is enough with the repair jobs.

In the case of the “Dog House,” the city has a building that one official said was designed to house a Boy Scout troop, but it became a police storage facility after the police department moved to its current home on South Main Street nearly a decade and a half ago.

“If you continue to put Band-Aids on things, eventually the Band-Aids won’t stick anymore,” Nettleton said.

Nettleton doesn’t have a cost estimate for a new facility, although the council appeared to come to a consensus to pay for it using SPLOST funds.

All Nettleton has is a rough drawing he and police Chief Franklin Allen created to show what it could look like. At this time, he is only asking council members for ideas about what the building should include.

But, Nettleton couldn’t offer up his request to the council without further dumping on the existing building. He said uniforms stored in the building are covered in mold even though there are no leaks in the room in which they are kept.

“They do need something back there,” Nettleton said. “The building that’s back there now is in horrendous repair.”

While many council members expressed support for a new structure, Councilman Bobby Wiggins vented frustrations that the storage situation was allowed to reach this point.

“Mold and mildew don’t get there overnight,” Wiggins said. “If something’s wrong, it should have been fixed awhile back before the building gets as bad as it sounds like it is.”

If a new “Dog House” is to be built, there is already one possible idea being floated about what officials should do with the existing facility: Burn it.

Nettleton said the city could give the structure to the Clayton County Fire Department, which would in turn burn it to the ground as part of a training exercise.

It wouldn’t cost the city anything to go with this option, whereas it would have to pay out of its general fund for demolition.

Councilman Wallace Norrington was the only official who said the current building should be renovated rather than ordering a new one to be built. He suggested making it a one-story structure by tearing out the second floor and putting a new roof on the first floor rooms.

“It’s a solid building,” Norrington said.

The idea of keeping it around, even in a modified form, doesn’t appear to be popular with Norrington’s fellow council members who left him alone as the lone voice against a new building. In that regard, it might be a matter of when, not if, a new “Dog House” is built.

Part of the distance from Norrington’s view stems from the fact that a few of his colleagues just don’t seem to want to keep sticking with yurts.

“Wallace, I’m tired of seeing substandard stuff in Jonesboro,” Segner said.