Wilton police station design can be achieved for $14 million
WILTON — The good news from Thursday night’s meeting of the Police-Town Hall Building Committee is that Tecton Architects was able to produce a plan for a new police station within the requested budget of $14 million. It includes hard costs, soft costs and money for contingencies.
The bad news was that several items included in the statement of requirements were dropped in order to meet that number.
That’s the message the committee will bring to the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. in Room B of town hall.
“This design was done to meet the budget constraint and may not be the best solution,” Robert Bordier of Colliers, the town’s owner’s rep, told the committee at the outset of their meeting.
The committee had been waiting to hear if the 17,000-square-foot design Tecton presented on Jan. 8 could be achieved with the bottom line dictated by the Board of Selectmen after it was sent to Tecton’s cost estimator. With that challenge met, the committee spent most of the evening on Jan. 30 going over the plan, reviewing what had been left out, and discussing next steps prior to presenting it to the public for a vote.
Because the estimator was working with the design that was presented a few weeks ago, there were few design changes to discuss. Tecton’s Public Safety Principal Jeffery McElravy reminded the committee that the aesthetics of the building, particularly the exterior, are not set in stone.
“We don’t have a sense of how your community identifies itself,” he said.
Bordier agreed. “It may look totally different when we get to the end of the design,” he said. “What will stay the same is the program and square footage.”
On the positive side, the architects were able to include space for bulk property storage — items too large to be stored elsewhere — a critical component feared to have been lost at the previous meeting.
The main item that was lost in trying to reach the $14-million budget was a soft interview room. This is a room that can be used to interview people such as juveniles and crime victims. Police Chief John Lynch described it as “one of the important aspects” they are losing.
He was also concerned with some loss of space that required condensing areas for sergeants, the youth bureau, school resource officers and patrol officers who are writing reports.
“We deal with a lot of sensitive information,” he said, adding some separation is preferable. Officers need a quiet area to write a report, he said.
Storage space was also an issue, he said. For example, found property needs to be kept in an area separate from evidence.
Also gone were a bunking area for officers staying overnight during a major crisis and one cell. Three sight-and-sound-separated gender-neutral cells that can accommodate adults and juveniles remain.
Covered parking was the final item Lynch said police would like to have back. This would help preserve the sensitive equipment such as computers, oxygen, and defibrillators that are kept in police cruisers. Lynch said officers now have to carry these items in and out of the station when temperatures dictate and officers also spend considerable time cleaning their cars of snow and ice in winter.
“It’s also morale issue,” he said. “If they’ve earned anything I’d say covered parking is important to them.”
The plan allows for 16 covered spaces, but 22 were requested.
Committee co-chair asked Lunch to prioritize the items he’d like to see modified or restored and asked if Tecton could provide a “back-of-the-envelope” idea of what those costs would be before the committee appears before the Board of Selectmen on Monday, Feb. 3.
“If we can get three of the things you want, I’ll go to bat for that,” he said.
Given that a number of town officials have stepped forward with concerns about parking and traffic circulation on the town hall campus if the new police station were sited just in front of the existing station, which would later be demolished, Tecton and Colliers will explore putting the building in an “optimal” location, at the end of the driveway to the campus, and include costs for tearing down the annex.
What about an addition?
The committee asked Tecton to estimate what the town could expect if it invested $14 million into adding onto the existing police station. The committee would like to present that information to the selectmen as well on Monday evening.
The committee has been working under the assumption a plan will be presented to voters at the Annual Town Meeting in May. However, the committee was told Thursday night it would be possible to hold a Special Town Meeting in September.
When the plan is presented will be up to the Board of Selectmen.