While Independence's Police Headquarters building has received some notable upgrades in recent years – some refurbished lockers, a rebuilt firing range and a new community room and records unit, among them – city officials say a brand new building a different site should be at least be considered when thinking long-term.
A presentation by architecture and design firm Hoefer Wysocki in February about a police facilities master plan weighed the pros and cons of building out and remodeling the current facility on Memorial Drive compared with a new facility on city-owned land at 23rd Street and R.D. Mize Road, near the Utilities Center and the soon-to-open new dispatch center.
Ken Henton, representing Hoefer Wysocki, explained that his firm's estimates showed that all the necessary remodeling and addition to the current facility would cost slightly more than a new facility would cost, and the current facility would then have no further room for expansion.
A new facility, however, could be built in a couple phases, also house the Municipal Court and have room for possible expansion over several decades.
After a meeting last month, Assistant City Manager Lauren Palmer said the City Council gave staff direction to continue looking the possibilities for a community improvement improvement and neighborhood improvement district. Theoretically, revenues from those two entities would pay for bonds to fund a new police building, which city staff estimated at $34 million.
“It’s very early,” Palmer said. “We are just beginning the process.”
“We're looking at potentially doing both. There's a lot of properties in the vicinity of the new site that would benefit but are not retail.”
The city also will explore a public-private partnership to help facilitate the project from start to finish, including financing, design and construction.
A CID is created by petition of property owners in the district and impose its own additional sales or property tax or special assessment to finance public improvements. In this case, the CID could be along major city corridors relatively close to the site of the new facility.
A NID is created by election or petition of property owners and applies special assessments on property taxes.
“Anytime you issue debt, there's some risk involved,” Palmer said, though she said the project being considered would not leave the city having dip into the general fund to cover guaranteed bond payments.
“The council's going to have a lot of decisions to make before we even break ground. We know we don't have the revenue streams within the existing budget.”
Henton said while the current police building basically is structurally sound but is a tight fit, and the jail needs be rebuilt if not moved to a different part of the building.
City staff said it has spent $1.85 million in police facility maintenance over the past 3 1/2 years and has identified more than $10 million simply in deferred maintenance needs. That doesn't include any building additions or additional parking.
Police Chief Brad Halsey noted in February that the current facility lacks amenities for workers on long shifts, and water drips and leaks behind and along walls have and could cause mechanical issues.
“Water's hard to chase and fix,” he said.
Palmer said the city has given thought to possible repurpose uses of the current police facility, as well as maintaining some police presence there with a satellite patrol unit.