City of Pine Bluff officials had their first sit-down meeting Thursday with the engineering company that will oversee the bond-funded construction projects for the new or remodeled Fire, Police and Animal Control department facilities.

City of Pine Bluff officials had their first sit-down meeting Thursday with the engineering company that will oversee the bond-funded construction projects for the new or remodeled Fire, Police and Animal Control department facilities.

ETC Engineers Inc. President Mizan Rahman met with city department heads to develop a game plan for beginning the projects, which will be funded by the five-eighths-cent sales tax and associated bond issues approved by voters in February.

Because the city has already issued the bonds for the projects, they must be completed by October 2014. Rahman said it will be his goal to get them done faster than that.

For the fire department, they discussed a $350,000 project to remodel Station No. 6 at 1805 Moreland St., a $325,000 to remodel Station No. 2 at 2120 W. Pullen Ave. and a $2.5 million to replace and possibly relocate Station No. 3 at 3000 Ash St.

Interim Fire Chief Shauwn Howell said that if he had to prioritize the projects by most urgent need, it would be: Station No. 3, Station No. 6 and Station No. 3.

At all three stations, one of the main goals will be improving the availability of separate facilities for the sexes.

Howell and Rahman set up meetings in January when the needs at each building can be discussed in detail so that Rahman can come back to the group in February with his recommendations for how best to proceed.

Police Department

The goal for the Police Department is to remodel or build a new centralized facility, replacing the rental properties the department currently uses.

A former auto parts store and a former office building downtown are being considered, as well as the former Sam Taylor Elementary School. Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones also said that in a perfect world, she would recommend a new building.

Voters approved $1.3 million in bond funding for the project.

Rahman suggested that they start with environmental studies at each of the three existing buildings. Because of their age and previous uses, some may have issues with asbestos and other chemicals that may be cost-prohibitive to clean up.

Rahman also said they should develop a detailed pro/con matrix for each site to help in making the decision.

Rahman said they will also prepare cost estimates for a new building for comparison, adding that sometimes building new is cheaper than remodeling.

Davis-Jones said she is open to any suggestions from Rahman of alternatives the city has not already considered.

Animal Control

A new building for the Animal Control Department shelter is planned, and voters approved $1.2 million in bonds to fund the project. The bonds for the project have not yet been issued.

Assistant to the mayor Ted Davis said the city will have to move the shelter from its current location in Martin Luther King Jr. park. Davis said they would like it to be a no-kill shelter with more modern, innovative approaches to animal control such as outdoor run areas, an on-site veterinarian, a pet shop and other features.

Davis said the city hopes to partner with other agencies to have a collaborative approach to providing better animal shelter services for the whole county.

Rahman said that ETC oversaw the building of a modern, innovative animal shelter in Sherwood and can bring that experience to the table.