HIGHLAND | The Town Council on Tuesday chose an architect to design a new police station two weeks after hiring a firm to help decide what it should include.
The council hired Wilson Estes Police Architects, of Kansas City, Mo.
Board members said the firm has designed more than 200 police stations and also did a study for the town in 2003 that suggested a new Highland station of about 26,000 square feet.
The current station is crammed into 3,000 square feet in the Town Hall basement.
In 2003 dollars, the cost would have been slightly less than $6 million. Today, the cost probably sits between $9 million and $10 million, Councilman Mark Herak said in February.
The vote was 3-2 with Councilmen Konnie Kuiper, D-2nd, and Dan Vassar, D-3rd, voting no.
"I'd like us to consider going to a local" firm that pays taxes in this area, Kuiper said.
Herak said he agreed with Kuiper's sentiment, but noted that police station design is highly specialized.
"It just makes sense" to go with Wilson Estes, Herak said.
Council Vice President Bernie Zemen, D-1st, added that, in the past, local companies have been "overwhelmed" by the intricacy involved in police station design.
"The council made a decision, and I will support that decision," Kuiper said.
Two weeks ago, the board hired The Skillman Corp., of Merrillville, to analyze the existing police facility and four lots immediately west of the existing hall that the town bought.
The game plan is for Skillman to do its study in the coming months and then present scenarios to town officials and Wilson Estes.
Board members currently anticipate a separate police station on the four lots instead of one large new building to house the police station and municipal offices.
In its proposal, Wilson Estes listed individual fees based on various options, including a fee of $595,000 to design a primary police facility, $89,000 for a basement parking garage, $56,000 to design a firing range, $5,000 to revise the 2003 plan and $17,850 for a conceptual plan based on this revision.
The town will decide which of these features will reach the drawing board and the proposal will be reviewed by Town Attorney Rhett Tauber and Council President Brian Novak, D-4th.
After the final specifications have been determined, Wilson Estes will design the new station, Novak said.
As the time arrives to consider bond issues, public hearings will be scheduled, he noted.
Earlier this month, Novak said the bonding process could begin around November or sooner.