Police department leaves current site

BY CELA MIGAN —

The police department will be moving to another location due to insufficient space, inadequate facilities and other existing problems in the current whereabouts.The police department shares their current building, built in 1927, with the fire department and is situated on the first floor and basement of the building.

It is still to be determined what the fire department will do with the vacant space left by the police department after the move.“[The fire department] will continue to stay here at the building and they will figure out what they’re going to do. Whether or not they’re going to renovate, occupy this space or be [used by] a different village department,” said Peter A. Nimmer, chief of police.

The police department is made up of 25 sworn officers and 5 clerical workers and it is estimated that a department that size needs 25,000 square feet. Right now the police department has 5200 square feet.

In 2006, the village board began a study to calculate the needs of the police department and the best options to fulfill them. “The process has actually been going on formally for ten years, since 2006 … I think it’s important that that’s reflected, because it’s not just a six-month process that we’ve put this together, it’s been several studies that have been done, several public meetings that have been had and discussed about the building and a lot of different presentations to the village board have been made over that decade and a lot of different options were presented over those years,” Nimmer said.

The Zimmerman Design Group was hired to do the study and pointed out many of the issues with the current location. Among the issues was a lack of all-around space, a lack of privacy for staff and interviewees, poor facilities and deficient storage space.

The police department is also experiencing problems with the building itself, such as extreme heating or cooling, moisture and rust in several areas and black soot in and around the vents.

IMG_0667
(Olivia Loomis) The current location of the police department is on Murray Avenue. To expand space and improve facilities, the department is planning a move to the AB Data building on Wilson Drive.

“Where you work, your work environment … it makes an impact on you. If you go into a workspace every day and you have no windows, everything’s falling apart and it’s cramped, it does have an impact on morale and future; your outlook of where you work,” said Ericka Lang, Shorewood Planning Director.

Public meetings about the police department’s move were held on March 7, 12 and 21 as well as April 4 and 18. The March 12 meeting was held at the police department and attendees were given a tour.

Katharine McDonnell, a Shorewood resident, attended the April 4 meeting in order to get more information on the police department’s move.

“I don’t know that much about the new building, but it seems like a good solution,” McDonnell said. “They’ve also done their research, it sounds like. They haven’t rushed into it, they’ve figured everything out, [and] they know that it makes sense.”

Throughout 2008, the village board looked at all possibilities ranging from sites where the police station could experience construction with a “wrap around building” addition and alternate locations. Among the options explored was the NS Legion Post, Sun Seekers building and AB Data building.

“A common theme kept coming back, and that was to remodel this building would be difficult and it would be very costly to do that, and if we remodeled this building it would only give us about 5-10 percent more space at a cost of about 4.2 million dollars to renovate this building,” Nimmer said. “Though it would take care of a lot of the physical problems with the building, it doesn’t resolve the space issues that we have.”

The AB Data building is the best option because it has the necessary space to house the police department and can be remodeled to meet the department’s needs. The excess space will allow for a community room, training space and future growth.

On April 18 at the village board meeting the village board had the opportunity to consider the possibility of purchasing AB Data, but decided not to base on an environmental study done.

An environmental study of a property is standard procedure, and in Phase I, it was found that there is some soil contamination, most likely caused by Heinz fuel tanks underneath the property. The next step is to conduct a Phase II study that would investigate and test the soil in order to determine how big of a problem it is.

The AB Data building will be remodeled in two phases and the projected total cost of the purchase of the building and remodel is $4.356 million.

Tax impacts for Phase I of the remodel will cost $25 per household in 2017 and 2018, and then $45 per $300,000 household beginning in 2019. Phase II of the remodel will tax $11 per $300,000 household after it is completed.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s going to cost the individual resident very much, so I think that’s a thoughtful thing they’ve done,” McDonnell said.

The remodeled AB Data building will have outdoor parking for citizens and a community room that could be used for various events.

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