Archived Story

Council OKs new police station

Published 11:06am Tuesday, October 4, 2011

After months of debate and fact-finding, the Fergus Falls City Council decided to begin work on a new police station across from city hall, between Washington and Junius avenues. A consensus was reached at a work session Monday, and the official vote came during the meeting.

The $5.8 million structure will likely be paid for by a 20-year bond issue, to be paid back by property taxes. Work on the next phase of the project will begin immediately, with building completion set for summer 2013 pending further council approvals.

Police Chief Kile Bergren was tasked at a Sept. 19 work session to come back with adjusted numbers showing a more accurate annual price difference between building across from city hall and building at the old U.S. Bank building on Cavour Avenue. While original numbers had the annual cost difference (including repaying bonds) at about $93,000, new numbers accounted for improvements to the public parking lots at the bank site, soil testing funds invested at the Washington site that wouldn’t be recovered, and additional utility costs at the bank site once it’s fully functional.

The new numbers showed a difference of about $54,600, with the additional finding that the operating costs of the new building would likely be less than those of the bank building.

“I can’t really put a number on (location), but obviously it’s going to be a lot more efficient to be in a facility that’s located adjacent to (these) facilities,” Bergren added, referring to city hall, the county jail and the county courthouse, three facilities where police employees spend a lot of their time.

Other topics discussed at the session included the difficulty of turning onto Union Avenue from Cavour, the possible negative tax impacts of the city purchasing the bank property, and the likelihood that a new building will likely have a longer life than the bank building, which is already around 40 years old.

The council voted to move into the design and development phase with architect company Shultz and Associates. Bergren explained that the police department will work with the firm to deliver some more specifics and cost estimates for the plans that have already been created. He expected that work to finish around the end of 2011.

“When I go back to almost a year ago when the council bought the property, they did so because it was the best location … for a police department project,” Bergren said after the meeting, adding that it was nice to see the council come “full circle” as it did more research on the site options available.

Bergren believes the council’s decision will serve as a morale booster for police department employees, who he said are dedicated but tired of working in cramped and makeshift quarters in three different locations around town.

“We’re getting to the point where we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

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