Wilton police station design is scaled back
WILTON — A revised police station proposal — one that is expected to cost about $14 million — was presented to the police station building committee at its meeting on Jan. 8. The new proposal was designed by the team from Tecton Architects with input from a working group of committee members, Wilton police administrators, and Colliers.
The new design allows for 16,800 square feet, down from the 19,500 square feet the committee recommended to the Board of Selectmen on Dec. 16. The larger building was expected to cost around $16 million, which the selectmen nixed, tasking the committee to come in with a proposal for $14 million. The present station measures 11,000 square feet.
Representatives from Colliers, acting as the town’s owner’s rep for the project, and Tecton told the committee they had a “difficult conversation” with the police on what could be cut and still meet the statement of requirements.
“Are there compromises? Yes,” said Rebecca Hopkins of Tecton. “Does it meet all the needs? No,” she said, adding it does not have as much flexibility for the future as the previous, larger design would have.
In addition to the size of the building, where the building would be situated was also changed. Instead of placing it at the end of the driveway to the town hall campus as presented to the selectmen, which would require razing the town hall annex, the building would go directly behind town hall, in front of the current police station. Police would continue to work in their current building during construction.
The first floor of the two-story building would include an entry lobby off of which would be dispatch. There would also be a records room; public interview room; three cells — one of which would be handicap accessible; space for booking, prisoner processing and holding; evidence storage; a lab; general storage; weapons storage; armory; communications equipment and IT; a small kitchen; restroom; and mechanical and electrical rooms.
The first floor would also include a multi-purpose room that can be used for training, the emergency operations center, and a meeting room open to the public. This room would have a public entry, kitchenette, restrooms, and furniture storage.
The second floor would include a briefing/roll call/tactical planning room; interview room; work spaces for detectives, youth bureau, sergeants, lieutenants, captains, assistant, training officers, and chief; locker rooms for men and women; a fitness room; break room; restroom; and conference room. Some of the work spaces could do double duty.
The exterior — which would be a combination of brick and clapboard — would include two sally ports.
Among the items that were completely eliminated were: a “soft” interview room for juveniles and others such as victims of domestic violence, one cell, a space for a future lieutenant, and a bunking area in case personnel have to stay over during a crisis such as a major storm.
Committee member Jack Suchy asked why the soft interview room was cut.
“The reason is cost,” Capt. Tom Conlon said. “It would be helpful to have a room like that but it wasn’t in the cards.”
A space for bulk property storage was also eliminated but Hopkins said this was “a critical compromise we need to get back.” This would be for evidence too large to be stored elsewhere in the building.
Another compromise was a reduction in the size of a carport. Tecton managed to include a carport for 16 vehicles but police had requested one for 22 cars. The carport is important, Hopkins said, because it reduces maintenance costs for the police cruisers.
Also eliminated was space for the emergency response team’s equipment and vehicle.
This design also has an air handling system on top of the building instead of inside, where it would have a longer life.
“There were some hard choices that have been made and may be some more,” facilities director Chris Burney said of the plan. “Generally speaking, we’re moving in the right direction.”
Chief John Lynch agreed. “We’re at that point where I don’t envision us cutting any more, and we may have cut too much but we can make it work.”
Capt. Rob Cipolla noted “we’ve already shaved 8,000 square feet off what was originally proposed. There’s no firearms range, no updates to the animal shelter — all were necessary.”
Tecton will now send this project to its cost estimator and the committee will meet again on Jan. 30 to review the numbers. Committee members will then present the plan to the Board of Selectmen on Feb. 3. At some point they will also meet with the Board of Finance. At least one public information session will be scheduled, perhaps in early March.