Council confident in police stationPublished 10:53am Wednesday, October 5, 2011
After a Monday night decision, members of the Fergus Falls City Council said they are dedicated to seeing the new police station project through to its summer 2013 completion date.
“Right now, we’ve got our city law enforcement renting two spaces and basically at the will of the landlords,” said Ward Three alderman Jay Cichosz. While the landlords have offered temporary extensions to the department when their leases expire next year, Cichosz said the current situation is unsustainable.
Ward Four alderman Randy Synstelien said the city council must approve the project entering the next stage of completion each time a stage is completed. At those times, it will have a chance to check over cost numbers and plans to make sure everything is getting done in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
During that time, Ward Two alderman Scott Rachels said, he and other council members will be looking for ways to save money.
“I’m happy with the site right now, but I am not set on the plans and price,” said Rachels. “I think we can sharpen our pencils a little bit.”
Rachels was one of the aldermen who first brought up cost-cutting when the original, $6.55 million project was introduced. The police department and architect firm Shultz and Associates eventually came back with a smaller plan expected to cost $5.8 million.
As Shultz and Associates enters the design and development phase, Rachels said he’ll be taking a close look at cost breakdowns, which may add up to a different number than $5.8 million. It’s important that the city get the most bang for the buck he said, even if that means spending a little more money now to save costs in the future.
“(The $5.8 million) is a number they got, and they got a pretty good base on it, but is it the final number?” he asked. “Absolutely not.”
Though the aldermen are committed to watching the price, they all agreed that building the station across from city hall is the best option.
“(Police Chief Kile Bergren) downplayed … the efficiency aspect, but I’m going to emphasize that,” said Synstelien. “I think there’s going to be significant efficiencies by being at that location.” He pointed to the amount of visits police department employees make to city hall, the courthouse, the county attorney’s office and the jail.
“We did send them back to the drawing board (earlier this year) and tell them to bring a more palatable and more cost-effective plan back,” he said of the cheaper $5.8 million project, adding the city’s creation of its own building allows for a more cost-effective plan in the long haul. “You build new, you do it one time. and it lasts for a long time.”
Accessibility to the public is also important, said Rachels. Council member said they were pleased with the station plans’ inclusion of a larger lobby for privacy and private interview rooms, as well as a central, welcoming location for people to come.
“Policing has changed so much,” Rachels remarked. “We have to have a building that will grow with the police department as the years go on.”Tags: Police Station