Wilton committee chooses architect for police building
The building committee working on replacing or renovating the ailing police headquarters has picked an architectural firm for the project.
At its meeting on Oct. 17, the committee unanimously chose Tecton Architects of Hartford, and co-chairs Patti Temple and David Waters presented that choice to the Board of Selectmen at its meeting on Oct. 21.
Tecton’s bid of $45,000 will cover its fees through the conceptual design phase. The firm has designed police and fire stations in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Over two meetings on Oct. 14 and 17, the committee entertained proposals from four firms: Tecton, Jakunski Humes Architects, Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc,, and Lothrop Associates LLP Architects.
“After a lengthy and thoughtful discussion, we made a unanimous decision,” Temple told The Bulletin. In order not to be initially swayed only by cost, the committee took its vote before looking at the bids. Three firms were within $5,000 of one another, two were within $1,000.
By Jan. 8, 2020, the committee will expect two design alternatives with cost estimates — one for a new building and one for a renovation and expansion of the present building. The committee will bring those details to the Board of Selectmen, and if a go-ahead is given, will then work on scheduling public information sessions.
At Thursday’s meeting, the committee heard a proposal from the Tecton team, led by Public Safety Principal Jeffery McElravy, AIA.
He said when undertaking a project, the firm “focuses on the ‘why’ of a project” to better understand how to design it.
“Every public safety officer deserves a station that enhances operations and respects the service they provide,” he told the committee. “Every community deserves well-designed facilities that represent their civic identity. It’s a civic building that belongs to you.”
McElravy, who said he has been doing public safety projects for 30 years, added, “every civic dollar should be invested wisely.”
The team presented a few drawings with their impressions of the project. Their first reaction was of a lot of traffic on the site with more driving than parking. They showed preliminary options for adding onto the police building as well as an option with a new facility.
They took into account Wilton’s population and the number of response calls and then projected that out to 2030. They also took into account what portions of the department have grown and future growth.
The firm is also aware the issue of regionalizing a dispatch center is still in play and could affect the final design. The matter is being studied by the Western Regional Council of Governments and First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, who was unable to attend Monday’s meeting, said in an email to The Bulletin that issue should be settled by December.
Vanderslice added one item that will not be in the design plans is a shooting range since that is expected to be a shared resource.
“At a cost of at least $1 million and based on the amount of usage, a Wilton-only range cannot be justified,” she said.
Tecton is presently working on a police headquarters in Lexington, Mass., and a fire station in Nedick, Mass., and is producing a few other studies, but nothing, McElravy said that would take attention away from Wilton.
When asked about working with budget constraints he said it is a matter of making smart decisions. “A lot of wants can be captured without extra space,” he said.
The building committee had its next meeting planned for Oct. 22, when it discussed the conceptual design phase.