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MPD could move to old BellSouth building

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Nov. 1, 2001
Mayor John Robert Smith said Wednesday that city leaders could consider moving the Meridian Police Department to the old BellSouth building on 23rd Avenue and Seventh Street.
Smith's suggestion came at a city council work session during which Council President George Thomas of Ward 1 asked for an update of the MPD's failure to meet city fire codes.
The MPD's Sixth Street headquarters failed to meet fire inspection codes and was cited for 66 violations during its annual inspection in April. The building failed a follow-up inspection in August, when it was cited for 34 violations.
Fire Chief Bunky Partridge said the most recent follow-up inspection on Oct. 22 mirrored the August inspection.
Thomas said he was not aware there are so many problems with the MPD headquarters and wanted to know if the building is safe.
Chief Administrative Officer Ken Storms said city leaders are working to correct each safety violation and are "trying to make it as safe as possible," but said the building was not "designed properly."
But, he said, the city can't afford a new building.
Smith said city leaders are considering uses for the old BellSouth building they acquired when purchasing property for the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center parking garage, which will be built on the block between 23rd and 24th avenues and Seventh and Eighth streets.
If architects can design a garage with enough spaces without having to tear down the old BellSouth building, he said, the city could leave the building intact. They could lease first-floor space to retail, he said, or use the building to house city community development and police department offices.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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