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Manatee County Sheriff's Office is opening new substation in Lakewood Ranch

Former Lakewood Ranch Information Center will house substation until new facility is built at Premier Park.

The new substation will be located at 11506 Rangeland Parkway, which used to be the Lakewood Ranch Information Center.
The new substation will be located at 11506 Rangeland Parkway, which used to be the Lakewood Ranch Information Center.
Photo by Ian Swaby
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As planning continues for a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office substation at Premier Park in Lakewood Ranch, Sheriff Rick Wells said there is currently a need for a strong law enforcement presence in East County.

That need had been filled by a temporary substation at the corner of Lorraine Road and State Road 70. However, that building had to be vacated in March 2022 because of a leaking roof and mold.

Wells said his department would reestablish that presence by opening a new substation at the corner of Rangeland Parkway and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. The Sheriff’s Office will lease a 2,000-square-foot building from Schroeder-Manatee Ranch that had served as the Lakewood Ranch Information Center until its closing in 2019. It also was used temporarily as the home of the Brain Health Initiative.

“We're moving pretty quickly now,” Wells said about occupying the former information center. “We think this is going to work.”

Randy Warren, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office public information officer, said the target date to open the new building to the public is March 1.

Wells said the growth in East County makes a sheriff’s substation in Lakewood Ranch vital.

“Whatever happens, as far as a brand-new building (in Manatee County for the sheriff’s office), it has to be in the Lakewood Ranch area,” he said.

Warren said a new substation at Premier Park isn’t likely to be completed until late 2024 at the earliest.

Wells said the plan is that the Premier Park facility would be located beside the Lakewood Ranch Library, which currently is under construction at the corner of Rangeland Parkway and Uihlein Road.

Manatee County Spokesman Bill Logan said a Premier Park substation has yet to be approved by county commissioners. Manatee County owns the land at Premier Park.

Wells said the Manatee County Commission has been very supportive of the needs of his office.

“They understand that we have to be more accessible, and we have to be in the areas of growth,” Wells said of the commissioners.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has three district offices, two in west Bradenton and one just northwest of the I-75 and State Road 64 interchange.

Wells said a substation would be adequate to serve the area, as well as more compatible due to the neighborhood surroundings. However, Wells said plans for the substation at Premier Park have increased to 5,000 square feet to house more personnel.

Wells said the goal is for the building to be hurricane-rated.

Until then, Wells expects the temporary substation to work well with the community. He said it will give the area residents greater public access to a deputy, as well as providing a location where deputies can report to fill out reports so they are not too far removed from their service area.

A deputy will occupy the front desk during normal business hours.

Traffic deputies, range deputies and agricultural deputies will report to that location, Wells said.

Having less time to drive to a district office will allow the deputies to have a greater presence in Lakewood Ranch-area neighborhoods.

Although it does take time for construction of sheriff’s office facilities to keep up with the tremendous surge in population, Wells said things are going in the right direction.

“I'm very fortunate to have people at the county who understand the need to build these facilities and to get us in a location where we can better help the citizens,” he said.




Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.

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