2007 Report On Police Facility Needs Finally Makes Its Way To Council
West U. City Council members have been given a 2-year-old report concerning the city’s police and fire stations to review prior to the issue appearing on an August meeting agenda. The 2007 report was intended for submission to council, but never was due to city elections.
The current council added police facility needs to the top of the list of 2009-2011 council goals.
The report includes several options, one of which included discussion with West U. Baptist Church concerning property acquisition. That option is most likely off the table, and the city will likely focus on an option which attaches the police station to the current City Hall.
Ross estimates that the new structure should cost around $6 million. Although council has not begun to discuss funding, it is likely that if council goes forward with the project it would be funded with certificates of obligation, which do not require voter approval.
The issue with the police station has been long-running, and the recent heat wave has exacerbated recent air-conditioning issues, with the room housing the city’s DirectLink alarm monitoring system climbing to 99 degrees near the end of June. Earlier in June, the city’s 911 equipment sounded a temperature alarm, and is now cooled by two portable fans.
“We’ve had problems in the summer before, but we haven’t had the frequency of the problems we are seeing now,” said Police Chief Ken Walker.
Most of the city’s computer equipment is housed in closet space, and the department has long been using former closet space as offices. The 6,038 sq. ft. station was built in 1985, flooded during Tropical Storm Allison and has structural foundation issues.
“These problems have existed since I started four years ago,” said former Councilwoman Phyllis Cohen as her second term ended. “For different reasons each council has put it on the back burner, but it really deserves to be on the front burner. We have talked views to the pool and dance studios…pretty window decorations and things like that. I think its incumbent on the next council to really look seriously at this. It has been along standing problem. There are a lot of reasons it has been passed along. I think parks and recreation for various reasons have taken priority.”
Cohen served on two councils that passed on the issue. Brinkley Sargent Architects did a “needs assessment” of the facility in 2002, and estimated a cost of $4.5 million to $5 million to build a facility that would meet the future needs of the department.
“The police department has outgrown the available space within the facility and the building shows signs of structural and roof problems,” according to the 2002 report. The current building, built in 1984, is 5,600 sq. ft. Brinkley Sargent recommended a 16,300 sq. ft. facility to provide enough space for the next 25 years.
“All areas are in need of space,” read the seven-year-old report. “Several staff members share many of the offices with inadequate areas for general office and supervisory functions. The space for processing and storage of evidence is severely undersized and not properly ventilated…the vehicle sally port is extremely small…the facility does not meet current ADA or Texas Accessibility laws.”