HIGHLAND | The Town Council on Monday officially approved the construction of a new Highland police station.
Known as the Public Safety Facility, the project was confirmed with a unanimous vote.
The vote took place after a public hearing that included a slide presentation of the existing station in the basement of Town Hall.
"As you can see, our employees are working in the hallways," Police Cmdr. George Georgeff said as he pointed to the photos.
He added that space is so sparse in the 8,000-square-foot station that the prisoner holding cells are often used to store evidence and property.
"The timing's right" with finances and construction costs, said Scott Cherry, senior vice president of The Skillman Corp. of Merrillville.
The 25,190-square-foot building will stand next to Town Hall, at the northeast corner of Ridge Road and Cottage Grove Avenue.
The cost cannot exceed $10.2 million, board members said.
Ray Dunn, of London Witte Financial Analysts, said the project will cost the average homeowner about $6.12 per month, or $73.47 per year over 20 years.
A female resident asked if there would be a firing range in the new facility.
Cherry said this would be desirable, but not critical to the new station.
"We'll see how it comes out in the budget," as the design work takes place, he said.
Police Chief Pete Hojnicki added the department is able to use the police firing range in Griffith.
"I'm in favor of this police department," resident James Slagle said.
Resident Dave Gearman said he attended the meeting on the facility last week and took a tour of the existing station afterward.
"I wish other people could see the appalling conditions," he said. "I'm all for this (new) police station."
Gearman also noted how there is room only for three chairs in the lobby and that families of victims and suspects often must co-mingle in this tiny area.
Resident Rick Volbrecht said he favors the new station, but also said a residential referendum is not possible because the project is under $12 million.
In response, Council President Brian Novak, D-4th, told Volbrecht he can remonstrate against the project if he wishes.
The design work will be completed by April 15, and contractor bids will be opened May 5.
Notice to proceed with construction is scheduled for May 13, with work to be completed by July 15, 2015.
In other business, Redevelopment Director Cecile Petro said the town is asking for private and business donations to help pay for new Christmas decorations being planned for the downtown area.