Jail rebuild is on home stretch

Construction on Burbank’s Police/Fire Headquarters is scheduled to be completed this spring, a little more than three years after the start of renovations, a city official said Friday.

Spot repairs on the facility began in 2000, two years after its original completion date. Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford said those repairs continued to 2008, when the first phase of the renovation plan began.

The final phase began at the end of March and Teaford said she anticipates the work to be completed by March 2012. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $9.5 million.

Redevelopment funds are being used to cover the current work, while the first phase was paid for using funds from a Capital Projects Holding Account, essentially General Funds restricted for use on capital projects, she said.

Water damage, along with other problems, were discovered almost immediately after the building opened. In 2000, damage was seen on the walls of the showers in the firefighters’ locker room.

Water leaks also were discovered in the parking garage and front stairs, among other places. The concrete floor of the building, including the lobby, parts of the fire department and about half of the police department was too thin and required repair, including the removal and reinstallation of the limestone flooring to support more weight. Other work included repairs to the main doors and lobby and museum windows.

The city filed suit against the general contractor for the project, Kajima Construction Services, alleging shoddy work.

Carolyn Barnes, senior assistant city attorney, said the city settled litigation with Kajima in August 2008 for $3.16 million. Barnes said WLC Architects also paid $475,000 as part of the settlement. The architects said the problems were related to the construction, she said.

Phase one of the renovations were completed in February 2010 at a cost of $1.34 million Teaford said.

Teaford said the tough part of the current project was the work on the jail.

“We had to remove all the concrete from the jail floor,” she said.

The work required Burbank police to book suspects at Glendale’s jail while its own facility was out of service. Police say the resulting travel time for police officers transporting prisoners between the two cities is one of the reasons for an increase in response times.

“Jails are interesting things – all the doors, locks, and security are controlled electrically, and it all had to be torn out and be put back in. It’s a very, very complicated project,” Teaford said. “There were not very good design drawings to document where things actually went. It was very, very, very challenging. But that’s all behind us now. The wiring is all back in.”

A new jail floor was poured over the past couple of weeks, Teaford said, and the coating on the main parking deck near Glenoaks Boulevard is complete.

Teaford said the parking area near Palm Avenue needs to have the current coating removed and re-sealed.

Work on the front entrance of the building continues, and the lower steps and lower landing are being completed, she said.

Burbank Deputy Police Chief Tom Angel said Wednesday that the majority of the invasive work has been completed, including work on locker rooms and access to the building.

“Much of the infrastructure is being completed or in the process of being completed. We’re on the downhill side, if you will,” Angel said.

Before inmates can be booked at the Burbank Jail again, police will make sure the electrical system is in full working order.

Police will also restock food and supplies, but Angel did not anticipate any extraordinary preparations.

“We’re definitely looking forward to bringing the jail operations back to Burbank for a number of reasons; convenience, having our employees back and operational control of the jail,” Angel said. “Glendale has been phenomenal in allowing us to share the jail with them.”

Angel said Burbank police began booking people in Glendale in April, and said the intent was to minimize the number of bookings at Glendale whenever it was safe to do so.

“We don’t want to take officers out of the field if it was unnecessary,” Angel said.

From April to October 2010, there were 1,962 total bookings. For the same time period this year, there were 1,495 total bookings, Angel said.

Round-trip travel time to the Glendale Jail is estimated at 30 to 45 minutes. Since two officers are required for jail transport, this amounts to between 1,495 and 2,243 lost hours between April 1 and Oct. 1 of this year, police said.

“We are cautiously optimistic that response times and staffing improvements through recruitment and patrol scheduling will improve in addition to a reduction of travel time to Glendale,” Angel said.

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