Highland prepares to approve new police station

2013-10-09T22:15:00Z 2013-10-09T23:11:07Z Highland prepares to approve new police stationBY CHARLES F. HABER Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 09, 2013 10:15 pm  • 

HIGHLAND | The Town Council held a public information meeting Wednesday on a new police station and could approve the project after a public hearing Monday.

The current facility, in the basement of Town Hall, operates in less than 8,000 square feet, an inadequate space for the facility, councilmen and police officials said.

The station would occupy a new 25,190-square-foot building at the northeast corner of Ridge Road and Cottage Grove Avenue, which is next to Town Hall.

"They're currently in a space about one-third of that," said architect James Estes of Wilson Estes Police Architects of Kansas City, Mo.

He said the overall project cost would be about $10.2 million.

Town Attorney Rhett Tauber stressed that the project cannot exceed this amount and that it possibly could cost less.

A bond issue to fund the structure would cost the average homeowner about $73 per year over 20 years, said Ryan Dunn of London Witte Financial Analysts.

In answer to one resident's question, there are very few grants available for this type of project, Estes said.

The timeline for the project includes the public hearing on Monday with a possible preliminary determination vote afterward, said Scott Cherry, senior vice president of The Skillman Corp. of Merrillville.

The design work, still in progress, would be complete by April 15, 2014, and contractor bids would be opened on May 5.

Notice to proceed with construction would be May 13 and work would be completed by July 15, 2015.

Cherry said local businesses would be used as much as possible for the project and assured that the construction would be mostly from Lake County firms.

Police Chief Pete Hojnicki and Cmdr. George Georgeff spoke of the current station's inadequacies to an audience of around 30 people. They also gave a tour of the station after the meeting ended.

Among the most serious problems is space for only three chairs in a tiny lobby where up to a dozen family members may gather during an incident, Hojnicki said.

Georgeff noted that hallways have been converted into office space and that interviews with suspects and citizens have little privacy because the detective desks are huddled so close together.

"We don't even have room for supplies," Hojnicki said, noting that items are stored under desks because there is no closet space.

Although the building is grandfathered from current regulations, it still violates many aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Georgeff said.

Another resident questioned whether there really is a need for a new station.

"I believe that if something is broken, you fix it," said Town Council President Brian Novak, D-4th. "This building is broken."

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