Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2013, 8:52 pm
New RI police station still in the works
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By Eric Timmons, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rock Island Police Department needs a new home, and city officials plan to present a design and location for a new building to the city council sometime this year.
The project will come with an estimated $19 million price tag, and the target for completion in the city's proposed five-year capital improvement plan is 2016.
Built in 1940, the police stationat 316 16th St. in downtown Rock Island no longer meets the needs of the police department, city manager Thomas Thomas said.
"Operational wise, they've outgrown that facility," he said. "We have to do something."
Police Chief Jeff VenHuizen said evidence files are stored in seven parts of the building instead of in one centralized location, and space is running out.
"We are using every available nook and cranny in the building, but there's nowhere left for us to go. Our efficiency is being affected," he said. "We can longer continue with a Band-Aid approach."
The lobby on the first floor of the building is too small and often gets crowded, Chief VenHuizen added, while the booking facility and records division are inconveniently located on the second floor.
"You can imagine bringing someone in on a DUI and having to take them up several flights of stairs," he said. "It creates a safety concern."
Mr. Thomas and other city officials are working with an architect to come up with a proposal for a new building.
Mr. Thomas said he'll a present a single recommendation that could involve property acquisition, but until he makes a presentation to the council, he won't divulge details.
After a new police station is built, the old station will remain in use by the city, likely by other city departments, he said.
The current police station is 22,000 square feet, but a study commissioned in 2011 determined that a 48,000-square-foot building is needed by the police department, which has 110 employees.
The report was written byMcClaren, Wilson & Lawrie Architects, a Wheaton firm, and cost the city $94,000. The architects estimated the cost of building a new station on a three-acre site would be $16 million to $19 million.
Bonds will be issued to fund the project, according to the capital improvement plan, which has yet to be approved by the council. The bonds would be paid off with revenue from gaming taxes.
Ald. Stephen Tollenaer, 4th Ward, said he wants more information on the project."I'm not sold on it yet. I'd like to see how much it would cost to modernize the old station."
He'd also like the police department to stay close to city hall and the Rock Island County Justice Center, but said there were plenty of properties in the area the city could acquire for a reasonable price.
"Operational wise, they've outgrown that facility," Mr. Thomas said. "We have to do something."