A plan to ease the crowded and antiquated spaces in the Saratoga Springs Police Department headquarters in the basement of City Hall was outlined by a consulting architect Tuesday.
“The Police Department has long been in dire need of more space,” said Steven Rowland of architects Butler, Rowland & Mays of Ballston Spa.
Rowland and his staff have been studying the Police Department’s space needs since last fall and recommended a $628,000 project at the City Council meeting.
The department’s investigations department, which is currently located in the basement with the police headquarters, would be moved to a portion of the city Public Safety offices on the second floor of City Hall.
“There is a great deal of space up here that is really being wasted,” Rowland said about the second-floor offices. This area includes the offices of Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen, his deputy, and the Public Safety Department staff. These offices would remain where they are with some minor changes, under the plan.
“The investigators could easily be relocated to the second floor,” Rowland said.
The city had budgeted $414,000 to renovate and modernize the basement headquarters. With the additional renovation of office space on the second floor of City Hall, the cost will increase to $628,000, Rowland said.
The investigators’ space would be built and prepared first and then work commenced in the basement headquarters.
Rowland said there was just “no way” to find additional space for police in the basement of City Hall.
Mathiesen said he endorses the new proposal, which he said was a 10-year plan to provide more space to the 60-member department.
“This is a good medium-term plan, not a short term plan,” he said.
Rowland worked closely with Chief Christopher Cole and other police officials.
“The Police Department is really happy with it,” Rowland said.
Mathiesen said changes to the city’s budget to accommodate the increased project cost will be presented to the council next month for approval.
Also Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously in favor of a new “idling of engines” ordinance that sets time limits on how long motor vehicles can have their engines running while on public streets or in public spaces.
The purpose of the ordinance is to improve the city’s environment by reducing energy use and exhaust fumes. The ordinance was suggested by a group of Skidmore College students who are part of a Cool Cities initiative.
The ordinance says a person cannot allow his or her motor vehicle to idle in a public street or public space for more than five minutes. The exceptions to the rule are public safety vehicles such as police cars, fire trucks and ambulances. People can also warm up their cars for longer periods of time that are “reasonably necessary for the health of the motor vehicle’s driver and/or the passengers.”
The council also approved changing the speed limit from the current 40 mph to 35 mph on Crescent Avenue from Route 9 (South Broadway) to Nelson Avenue.
Mathiesen said more traffic has been seen on this section of Crescent Avenue since the expansion of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway. He added that there could also be additional expansion at that facility in the future.
Several residents living farther east on Crescent Avenue said they would also like to see the section of Crescent from Nelson to Route 9P (outer Union Avenue) included in the speed limit reduction. No action was taken on this request.