Fayetteville to purchase land for new police headquarters and two fire stations

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Fayetteville’s police and fire departments are one step closer to having new facilities.

City Council members on Tuesday agreed to buy 11.6 acres at the northeast corner of Deane Street and Porter Road from the University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture for a new police headquarters complex.

The area was one of two locations identified in a study as possible sites for a new headquarters in the lead up to the 2019 bond election. The voter-approved measure included $35 million for the project.

Under the agreement, the city will pay the university $2.59 million for the property.

Fayetteville’s police department has been at 100 W. Rock Street inside a former J.C. Penney automotive center since 1993, and has since outgrown the space.

Police Chief Greg Tabor has for years talked about the need for a new station. He’s told council members about the department’s cramped facilities on numerous occasions, including how officers deal with ongoing parking issues, storage limitations that require evidence to be taken to a separate building across town, and how officers have to change clothes in the hallways because there’s simply no room for a proper locker room.

The study, from Dewberry Architects, recommended the city find about 10 acres for the complex, which will include three buildings: one for the main station; one for training, evidence and vehicle storage; and another that includes an indoor firing range.

Tabor said the location is a great fit.

“We think it gives us good accessibility to I-49…and multiple points of entry and exit,” said Tabor, who added that the area has a line of sight to the department’s radio tower atop Millsap Mountain. “That will hopefully help us with some of the costs when we move our dispatch center.”

He said the project has been a long time coming, and his only regret is that he won’t be around to see it built. Tabor is set to retire this month after 35 years of service with the department.

The additional acreage on the property will be used to construct one new fire station. The 2019 bond election also included $15 million for three new fire stations and apparatus to support ongoing growth for fire and emergency response.

The land purchase will now need to be approved by the University of Arkansas System board. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 12.

The council on Tuesday also agreed to purchase another piece of land for a second new fire station. The 1.76-acre lot is located at 2260 S. School Ave. just south of Cato Springs Road. The city will pay Robert and Vickie Parker $180,000 for the land.

Fire Chief Brad Hardin said the two new stations will help reduce response times and potentially save lives.

It’s uncertain where the third station will be located, but officials earlier this year said new stations were needed in the south, central and northwest areas of town.

Once the three new facilities are built, Fayetteville will have a total of 10 fire stations.