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Hatboro Considers Constructing New Police Station

Officials say renovating and expanding could be too costly.

The Hatboro Borough Council is mulling over the estimated $1.7 million price tag for constructing a new police building.

Brian Mann, a partner with The Omnia Group Architects, provided the approximate construction cost to the council during its Monday meeting. The figure is based on 2008 data reflecting the national average at that time of $155.24 per square foot, which equates to $1.7 million for a new 11,000-square-foot police station, he said. 

“It’s not unique for this region,” Mann said.

The cost also does not account for demolishing the building, disposal of hazardous materials and other “as yet undefined soft costs,” according to the feasibility study Mann presented to council. Councilman John Zygmont pointed out that relocation of the Public Works department – which currently occupies a portion of the 9,000-square-foot police facility – was not part of the equation either.

Mann said it was not the firm’s task to “solve the Public Works issue.”

Council President Marianne Reymer said the council would begin working on its capital fund planning for 2012 through 2017 in July to determine when money would be available for the project. Funds to cover engineering costs – roughly $75,000 – have already been earmarked, Councilwoman Aleta Ostrander said.

From design to construction, Mann estimated that the project would take about 18 months to complete.

During Monday’s presentation, Mann outlined the pros and cons to either renovating and expanding the existing 56-year-old police station, or razing it and building anew. Currently, the police occupy 3,514 square feet of the 9,000-square-foot building, he said. 

Based on an analysis, a proper functioning police station would require approximately 8,685 square feet of space, Mann said. And, because of the need to add significant partitioning to the concrete building, reroute HVAC, provide handicap access, as well as facilities for female police officers, Mann said adding onto the existing structure would be cost prohibitive.

“(It would) mean a wholesale gut of the innards of this building,” Mann said. “It’s inefficient and it’s expensive.” 

If the renovation and route was taken, Mann, in his report, said the cost could actually be higher, or nearly as high and result in a “substandard” building with “higher long‐term maintenance costs, and have a significantly shorter useful life.”

A new two-story, 11,011-square-foot facility, on the other hand, would plan for growth through the next 20 years, accounting for an additional five police officers, Mann said.

“In taking what we think are ideal standards for a police facility, we believe we can occupy less space and still get the facility to work,” Mann said, adding that a larger parking area would be available.

The conceptual design calls for extra space for the police chief’s office, patrol work stations, police reception area, locker room, patrol sergeants, training and a larger area for the armory. The plan also includes the addition of a lieutenant office, a third cell block, an IT department, an interview room, a records room, a detective office, an administrative restroom and a conference room.

Besides more room, Mann said the proposed new police building would address adjacency and safety concerns currently at issue with the existing structure, namely prisoners potentially coming into contact with staff, as well as the general public. With the sketch he presented – which is modeled after Towamencin’s circular design police station – Mann said prisoners would enter the facility from the back, while the general public would access it from the front.

Citing the “Police Facility Planning Guidelines,which is published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Mann said, in his report, that the “useful life of a police facility can range from 20 to over 50 years.” 

He described the current police building as being “operationally obsolete” and said the structure, which was constructed in 1955, has run its course.

“Policing standards have changed considerably,” Mann said. “This is really a building that was designed for a different time.”

 

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