WILTON \u2014 The new police headquarters project \u2014 one that is 25 years in the making \u2014 has taken a big step forward with the town securing an architectural firm and gaining support of the Board of Selectmen. But before plans can progress further, it needs approval from the public. Director of Public Works Chris Burney said at a Monday informational meeting that this project might be the most important project Wilton has completed \u201cin the last 10 years\u201d or in the next decade. The reason is simple, according to Police Chief John Lynch. \u201cThe infrastructure is failing,\u201d he said. The police headquarters was built 47 years ago and, when Lynch started his poing career, he said the accommodations were satisfactory. He recalled that, although the building was initially designed up to code in 1974, it severely lacks the electrical capabilities that modern departments rely on to serve their residents. He said that outlets have \u201ccaught fire\u201d in the building due to the high demand the department must ask of the older building. During the coronavirus pandemic, the chief realized that one effective mitigation strategy could not be achieved while working in the headquarters, as the building lacked sufficient ventilation capabilities. The current police building also does not have a fire alarm, but rather \u201cheat detectors,\u201d according to Lynch. Lynch said the building\u2019s size isn\u2019t up to par. The headquarters was originally designed for 24 officers, but the current force has 44 officers. Additionally, the current building lacks a key state-mandated component: The ability to process adults and juveniles in different areas. The Police Building Committee, Burney, Lynch and First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice agreed that informing the public of the need is of immediate and paramount importance. The public will consider whether to approve the project at a special town vote in January. The police chief reiterated for the public that the project is not just important for the police department, but the building also serves \u201cas the heartbeat\u201d for the town\u2019s emergency medical services. \u201cWe are asking\u201d that the town give \u201cus the ability to serve you well,\u201d Lynch said. In return, the chief said the police force plans to continue to deliver on that promise at the highest level. Police Building Committee co-Chairs Dave Waters and Patti Temple said a lot has gone into the planning for the new building since the last proposal in February 2020. A lot of \u201cpublic and non-public spaces\u201d go into the design for a new police headquarters, Waters said Monday, calling it \u201cdifferent\u201d than an office building or multifamily building. He detailed that spaces have to be designed up to code to house police-specific accomodations, such as for records and evidence, firearms and ammunition, separate holding areas and for an emergency operations center. The building will also include a conference room, a feature that the police department has worked without since the current building\u2019s inception. One resident spoke on Monday, saying she never quite \u201cquestioned the extent to which we needed to replace\u201d the police headquarters, until she took a tour of the current building during a guided open house over the weekend. \u201cI was really not prepared for the appalling conditions our officers have to work in,\u201d she said, adding she is imploring Wilton residents to back this project.