Rotterdam officials have approved a study they hope will draw the town closer to a new police station and court.
Members of the Town Board unanimously agreed to hire Clough Harbor & Associates to design the structure. The $35,900 contract will be partially funded by a $25,000 state grant the town received last year.
“They already have committed to and done most of the work,” said Supervisor Steve Tommasone during Wednesday’s board meeting. “Now what they’re doing is basically taking the next step.”
Nearly four years ago, Clough Harbor returned part of a $38,700 feasibility study that investigated moving either the police and courts or the town offices to the former Curry Road Shopping Plaza. The project was ultimately scrapped last year when board members decided to develop the property for commercial and residential uses.
At the time, Tommasone suggested the traffic near the plaza would be too difficult for police and emergency vehicles to navigate. He also suggested the 11-acre property could be developed and sold to help defray the costs of a new public safety facility.
Last month, board members informally agreed to allow Tommasone to discuss property acquisition, in part to locate a site for the police and court facility. Now, he said, the goal is to finish a design study for the facility before the fall.
“We don’t necessarily have to have the property before we have the building designed,” he said.
For years, town police have grumbled about the conditions at their station off Princetown Road. The building was constructed more than a century ago and once housed an elementary school.
Rotterdam Police have occupied the three-story brick building since the early 1970s. Police and court officials have lobbied for better quarters for more than a decade.
Deputy Police Chief Bill Manikas said conditions at the station have since deteriorated further while the case load has steadily increased. He said the 44-member department continues to work around leaks in the ceilings, inadequate interviewing rooms and offices that sometimes double as storage areas.
“We’re getting by, but it is a 100-year-old building,” he said Thursday. “It’s inadequate for a police station for numerous reasons.”
Routinely, the courtroom is filled beyond capacity, spilling people into a narrow corridor. Manikas said moving prisoners up the stairs between the court and the department’s basement holding cell can also pose a dangerous situation.
Despite these drawbacks, Manikas said the police are understanding of the time it takes to plan a new station. He said the general sentiment is that they would rather the station be planned correctly instead of hurried.
“Obviously, we understand it’s a very expensive undertaking and I think the town wants to do it and do it properly.”
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