Police Station Letter

An LTE sent to the Chronicle last week made it in today:

To the editor:

During the municipal election campaign I remarked publicly that DeKalb’s Police Facility Advisory Committee (FAC) was not allowed to consider any police station options other than a brand-new station built on the Lincoln Highway commercial site that had already been purchased. Then-alderman and FAC member Donna Gorski took issue with my statement in a letter to the editor.

In her March 30 missive, Ms. Gorski wrote, “Background materials on previous plans and discussions over the past 10 years were analyzed.” While it is true that the history was reviewed, it was misleading to suggest the FAC considered and rejected the earlier ideas. I repeat: They were not allowed to do so. In fact, the wording I used, “Their hands were tied,” was borrowed from a FAC member who also noted that even the architect had been preselected. I discussed FAC meeting outcomes several times with Committee members and other attendees and according to these sources, FAC was left to decide only whether a new station on Lincoln Highway should be 35,000 square feet or 55,000 square feet. They were also charged with the mission of figuring out how to pay for it, although those options were limited as well.

In short: I stand by what I said.

I also remain intensely interested in the subject. Police station overcrowding is a serious concern and must be dealt with.

Now I see by your May 8 article, “No new taxes in 2010 city budget,” that financing a new police station is back on the agenda for next week’s Committee of the Whole meeting. I believe this move to be premature due to the circumstances described above, but am also amazed that the city is apparently going against advice it paid $60,000 for. In its report, financial consultants Executive Partners, Inc. (EPI) suggests DeKalb not take on this kind of debt until its financial house is in order, but rather at this time to hire a space planner to evaluate the Municipal Building and Annex as the basis for a plan to provide relief.

Moreover, I submit that DeKalb’s fervent struggle to lay claim to a budget “surplus” and/or “balanced” budget is creating public safety staffing shortages which, in the case of the police department, may end up surpassing in seriousness the shortage of space – that is, if it hasn’t already.

Lynn A. Fazekas

DeKalb

One thought on “Police Station Letter”

  1. You are correct Lynn. I sit as a member of the Police Advisory Committee or at least I did sit on it but the first meeting that we had the ground rules were laid out. We first saw “the” power point presentation showing the current facility and all the numbers and projections including the studies.

    I fully agree with Chief Feithen to where and why he would like to be at the Lincoln Hwy location. I’ve thought about the commercial property part of it and after driving thru the Junction Shopping Center, I’m not sure that the property they purchased really would have been condusive to any real strong commercial. In fact, if the City wouldn’t have purchased it, I bet NIU would have stolen it like other properties they’ve snatched up.

    I will say one thing. I wish the City representatives that have been buying land and buildings through out DeKalb would buy something from me. They basically are offering top and I do mean TOP dollar for all of the purchases. Don’t even get me going on the Adolph Miller property purchases on Locust and 1st, the site of the ice rink.

    OK, that is a recent observation with the Lincoln Hwy site.

    We as a committee however would told this. The land and/or site for the future station is not a discussion matter. It is the Lincoln Hwy site.

    The type of construction method was to be Construction Manager and they have that company in mind.

    The architect is picked and there is no need for discussion on this point.

    Remodeling of the current station is not even a consideration.

    The committee’s charge was to decide between 35,000 or 56,000 square feet.

    And really the real reason we were put together. To find and recommend a way to finance the police station.

    Now, I respect Chief Feithen’s input very much. I do understand where he is coming from because basically any good attorney could pretty much get his/her client acquitted by just bringing the Judge and Jury thru the police station. Seriously folks. How will this community feel if a murderer is let go because of faulty facilities, improper evidence storage, etc?

    Now, we have all the land at City Hall right now and I’ve been thinking about this alot. The communications room and dispatcher area, holding cells, office staff area, locker rooms and training area along with maybe one third to one half of the offices they need for patrol can be built next to City Hall as an extension while the police still run business out of the current station. Once completed, they occupy the new addition while the current station is overhauled for the detectives, additional squad offices, storage and a completely revamped shooting range in its current location.

    I know its 2 staged in construction but the land is there and now we can consider some land sales.

    The City Hall annex across the street from City Hall can be put up for sale. That’s 2 buildings with rear parking.

    Lincoln Hwy property can now be sold. This would also be 3 properties back on the tax rolls and hopefully occupied by some sales tax originating businesses.

    I would think that this could get the police department along for at least 10 plus years while we see how this City does eventually grow and with the sales of these properties, we’ve just come up with a great start in paying for the station itself.

    I think this would even be to the liking of the financial consultants, EPI.

    It would have been interesting if the PAC would have had the opportunity to discuss this possibility but our hands were tied or should I say “handcuffed”?

    Remember, we also have to figure in how we can get another Fire Station over by Annie Glidden and Taylor. It can be done but the City must put this City really needs a game plan and they need to take care of priorities not wishes, wants, and fantasies.

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