Wilton enters into new police building contract with Tecton Architects

WILTON — The Board of Selectmen agreed Monday to enter into a contract with Tecton Architects for the building of a new, police department headquarters and possible firing range.

The agreement is subject to the approval of the town’s legal counsel Doug LaMonte.

Compliant with regulatory standards and the town’s building department, Tecton principal Jeff McElravy presented the current site plans to the selectmen for the project. Tecton was the original contractor for the police building and last presented its recommended design and site plan on Feb. 3, 2020.

Those floor plans have not changed, according to McElravy. The price, which was estimated at $14.5 million last year, however, will change.

Director of Public Works Chris Burney said the town has chosen Tecton because of its familiarity working on police buildings. McElravy said the company has done “a lot of police facilities” and is familiar with the specific standards, including accessibility issues, that have to be adopted and applied when planning to build them.

He also stressed the importance of making a police building uniquely designed for the town of Wilton.

“This is a civic building,” McElravy said. “This belongs to you.”

The new headquarters is slated to be built in between the current police building and Wilton Town Hall on Danbury Road.

At the September selectmen meeting, multiple members made it known how important the project is for the town and its police department.

Joshua Cole called the project “long overdue for anyone who has seen the police station,” while Deb McFadden was excited for a new building after officers have been working in “non-compliant, cramped spaces,” including during the coronavirus pandemic.

The current police building is also not compliant with building standards in its firing range, which has not been used for years and and has instead been utilized as a storage room.

Plans for a new firing range are in the works with Tecton but, according to McElravy, there are “still a lot of unknowns.”

The aspect of the range that seems most certain is its proposed location, which many in town believe to be behind the transfer station. Beyond that, McElravy said there are more questions to ask.

The width of the firing range, which is anticipated to be a concrete slab with a roof and heavily insulated and reinforced walls, will depend on what use the police will need from it. The length of the building, and the thickness of the bullet trap at the rear of the range, all also depend on the range’s planned use.

The Tecton principal explained that a regular handgun firing range will yield a shorter range with a slightly less reinforced bullet trap. A range dedicated to rifle training would need to be elongated and have a thicker trap to stop the velocity of a bullet fired by a higher-powered weapon. If the police intend on hosting sharpshooting training at the range — therefore, practicing with long-range rifles — there will need to be even more protection along the trap and a longer shooting alley.

McElravy assured that there are noise levels both on the exterior and interior that have to be maintained to assure safety for those utilizing the facilities.

McFadden also asked if the building’s electrical capacity would be able to handle possible electric vehicle charging stations in the future. With the police fleet “slowly shifting” to hybrid, she wondered if a possible shift to all electric vehicles could be in the future, and if so, if that is being accounted for in the planning.

Police Department Building Project Committee co-chairman David Waters said this, as well as other renewable energy capacities, were thought of when reviewing the project’s Statement of Requirements.