Miami To Take Free Land For Police Training Center
By Susan Stabley
The City of Miami plans to take from the Florida Department of Transportation two chunks of land that may be used for a police training center and are linked to a proposed site for Camillus House.
Although the surplus land is free, city commissioners must vote to accept the land and paying for closing costs and other expenses. That decision will probably be put off until June 10, city spokeswoman Kelly Penton said Tuesday.
Commissioner Angel Gonzalez, who represents the district where the land is located, is vacationing in Spain and won’t attend this week’s meeting, according to Frank Castaneda, his chief of staff.
The Miami Police Department has $10 million for a training center from the 2001 Homeland Defense-Neighborhood Improvement bond. Once built, the center could be used train officers from Central and South America and the Caribbean law enforcement agencies, an idea proposed in speeches by Police Chief John Timoney.
The city would spend $16,000 for costs for about 1.7 acres at Northwest 20th Street near Interstate 95 and $22,000 for 2.31 acres between Northwest 15th and 17th streets, according to city documents.
The two plots are on either side of the proposed site for a new Camillus House facility. City officials have been in talks with the agency regarding security and other issues connected to the proposed homeless shelter.
Both the land for the Camillus House and the site for the proposed police training center are part of a strip of property once used to store railroad cargo that runs west of Interstate 95 from Northwest 20th Street to an interstate ramp that bends into State Road 836. The Department of Transportation acquired the land for possible transit uses but later deemed it surplus.
Miami Police Maj. Joseph T. Longueira, the center’s project manager, said the department is looking at additional financing sources for the center. He did not give an estimate on the cost Tuesday.
"We still exploring all our alternatives," he said.
Initial concepts for the center call for classrooms, a small auditorium, a gym area, locker rooms, a small kitchen and perhaps laboratories. Police have three classrooms at downtown headquarters, built in 1975, and two rooms at an area fire station. The department also wants its own indoor shooting range.