Fortress-like Gulfport public safety complex nearing completion

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS  (WLOX) - Gulfport's new police station and municipal court complex should be finished by the end of the year.

Workers are making steady progress on the Robert J. Curry Public Safety Center. The new $22 million public safety center is quite the sturdy structure. It's a concrete fortress with windows designed to handle sustained winds of 200 miles an hour.

The 74,000 square foot post-Katrina project is most impressive. With pre-cast concrete walls, large windows and impressive front columns, the new public safety center is an imposing addition to downtown Gulfport.

"It's really two buildings under one roof," said architect Johnny Olsen, as he led a visitor on a tour of the new building, "Right now, we're standing in the municipal court side of the house, which is completely separated from the police headquarters side."

Project Manager Olsen began design work more than two years ago.

"We're getting close. Our substantial completion date is October 28th. What that means is the contract is substantially complete at that point," he explained.

Two large courtrooms are the primary space on the municipal court side.

"All of your arraignments would happen here. This room can also double function, if the need arises, as a city council chambers," said Olsen, pointing toward the expansive space.

"I'm going to handle all my court business directly behind me. The court clerks is where I'll pay my fines, schedule court dates," he said.

The police department includes a pair of community meeting rooms and a two story lobby with a "memorial wall" to honor fallen officers.

Seven holding cells are a part of the law enforcement section.

"We've got male cells here, female cells here," said Olsen, "This is the secure point where the officer would have observation of all the cells."

The complex was built like a fortress by design.That's because in the event of a hurricane, this building will serve as the emergency shelter for first responders.

Exterior building materials had to pass tests to meet stringent FEMA standards.

"The way the tests work is that it's a 15 pound two-by-four shot out of an air cannon at 100 miles an hour. And all the materials on the perimeter of the building, have to meet that test," Olsen says.

The new public safety complex is named for Gulfport police officer Rob Curry, who was killed in a motorcycle accident, while on duty, two years ago.

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