Police Station Should Open by Year's End
Southern Pines police officers could receive a belated Christmas gift this year.
Construction of a 30,000-square-foot police station remains on schedule for completion by the end of this year, according to town officials.
Town Manager Reagan Parsons said the building, which will cost more than $8 million, has had few, if any, hangups since construction began.
"It's a nice space," Parsons said. "It's modern. It's up-to-date, but just the fact that it is more space is something I think everyone is excited about."
The building is adjacent to the Southern Pines Fire Department on West Pennsylvania Avenue. It features a two-story design that tapers to a single floor in the rear of the building.
If the work is completed on time, officers will move into the new building in January, Parsons said.
The building features a large training area for officers and other safety personnel, meeting rooms, a state-of-the-art communication center, a centralized server site and a conference room that doubles as an emergency command center.
"We are excited not only because we will be moving into a bigger space, but because we will be able to provide better public safety services," Police Chief John Letteney said.
The size of the building should accommodate the growth of the department for years.
"The council wanted a building that we wouldn't have to touch for 50 years," Parsons said. "As the (police) department grows, there is going to be some room for them to grow into it."
For example, the building has extra offices. Several offices can be divided into multiple work spaces as necessary. The roll-call room can accommodate 20 officers. Letteney said that is plenty big enough for now and the near future.
"I don't anticipate a shift of 20 officers for the next 30 years," Letteney said.
Currently, the department has 31 full-time personnel and two part-time workers.
In addition to the added space, the new building has numerous "green" features that include stormwater work, automatic shut-off sinks, low-flow toilets, and upgraded lights and windows. Green construction materials were also used.
"This plan was finalized about a year and a half ago, so we've been looking at the building on paper now for a while," Letteney said. "but to be able to finally walk through the building and see it taking shape is an interesting and exciting process."
Letteney and John Stone, the town's assistant fire chief, have taken an active role in modifications to the design to maximize use of the space.
For example, Letteney said they changed an open area in a back hallway into a storage room by adding a wall and a door. Another storage closet area that "looked good on paper" was redesigned with a different opening to make it more useable, Letteney said. Another door in the arrest/processing area was removed to create more open space and allow for a better flow of traffic in the room.
"These were some of the things we could do in the construction phase to make it a more efficient facility," Letteney said.
Parsons said the toughest part of the move will be relocating technology. With the relocation of the communication center and the town computer servers, there will need to be some duplication because those systems cannot go down for any length of time, he said.
"The technical part of it is where you really hold your breath," Parsons said.
The process of finding a new, permanent home for the Police Department has taken several years.
The need for a new police station arose when the town's old municipal building on Broad Street at the Downtown Park was demolished in 2006. Since then, the Police Department has been located in temporary quarters in the cramped old Access Printing building off Morganton Road near U.S. 1. According to Letteney, the department occupies about 7,000 square feet of that building. The Public Works Department will take over that building when the new police station is finished.
The town originally planned to build a new municipal complex on the site of the old one. It was to include a police station, meeting chambers and administrative offices. While architects came up with several designs for a new complex, none were accepted by town leaders or residents.
Southern Pines purchased the land on Pennsylvania Avenue in 2007 for the new police station. The Southern Pines farmers market was previously located there. Construction of the new building began earlier this year.
Contact Tom Embrey at 910-693-2484 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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