More input sought on police building

By Mike Anthony

Some Crestwood residents, including the wife of a newly elected alderman, want more public input and more information about the construction of a new police building.

During a Board of Aldermen meeting last week, Judy Miguel, the wife of newly elected Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel, asked whether residents would be able to view a model of the new police building and if there would be time for public input before construction begins.

Another resident, Conrad Berry, suggested that instead of constructing a new police building, perhaps renovations to the existing City Hall building could be performed to provide space for the Police Department. He also suggested that city officials consider retiring early bond-like certificates that were issued to fund construction of a new police building.

City Administrator Don Greer noted that aldermen could decide to seek additional public comment if they wished and that city officials have begun exploring whether the existing City Hall building could be retrofitted to provide additional space for the Police Department.

Crestwood voters in August 2002 approved Proposition S, the extension of a half-cent sales tax to fund construction of the new police building, provide revenue for repairs at City Hall and allow the continuation of the city’s street repair and replacement program. The half-cent, capital-improvements sales tax had been scheduled to end in 2008, but voter approval of Proposition S extended the sales tax until 2023.

In November 2002, the city issued $9.83 million in certificates of participation — or COPs — to fund the construction of the new police building and the repairs to City Hall. The bond-like certificates are to be repaid over a 20-year period and payments with interest will total $14,674,505. The project budget for the new police facility and renovations to City Hall totals $8.7 million, including site work and professional fees. The cost of the new police facility itself, including furniture, fixtures and equipment, totals roughly $5.85 million.

During a period for public comment at the May 25 meeting, Judy Miguel said, “… When we were given information on the aquatic center a few years back, you had a public meeting, you had a model. We all went up and looked at it and we basically knew what we were doing. I was wondering, when are we going to do that for the police building?

“I mean we voted on a capital-improvement tax and the police building I guess was there. I don’t think people realized — I did not realize what I was doing when I voted for it and that’s my own fault, but I’m thinking now where is the information on the building that we’re building or supposed to be building? Is there going to be a model, information on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it it?”

Greer, who also serves as police chief, said, “Well, the information on why we’re doing it has been published. The plans call for a model to be constructed based upon the final designs and the final designs haven’t yet been (finalized).”

Judy Miguel said, “Will there be time for public input before the building starts to be built and the time the model is presented?”

Greer said, “That will be up to the board as to how they want to set that. The plans will have to come back to the board for approval to solicit bids. So prior to the project being bid, the board will have to authorize the letting of those bids.”

She said, “OK, but we will have a chance for comment …”

Greer said, “It will be presented at a public meeting.”

Berry told the board that he had toured City Hall with “my alderman Jerry Miguel and two other concerned citizens” and had reviewed blueprints of the new police building.

“… It was my understanding or my feelings that with the approximately 1,200 to 1,400 square feet that we have now available on the lower level which used to be the shooting range, that that would give a lot of space for storage and some of the other things that the chief requested,” Berry said. “And I also noticed that on the back or the west side of the police station, there’s about a thousand square feet that’s already under roof. Apparently this was done at some time in the past, I don’t know when, but by adding three walls, they would have another thousand square feet of floor space, which would give them 5-foot-by-10-foot cells, a sally port and if you take out the motorcycle garage, which is being used for bike storage, and you put in just a small unit there to store the bikes in, you could use that 150 square feet for a juvenile retention room.

“So I think there’s a lot that could be done with what we have rather than spending $17 (million) or $18 million on a new building and I’d like maybe the board to reconsider that in hopes that the bonds could be retired early and save the city those millions,” he added.

In a Call candidate questionnaire, Jerry Miguel, who was elected April 6, said that he believed construction of the new police station “needs to be stopped, or at least put on hold until the city’s finances are in order … Assurances that we can spend $1 million per year for street repairs while we spend $15 million for a new police station are no longer valid, if they ever were. And has anyone calculated the annual operating cost the new police building will add to the general fund? The bottom line is the city cannot afford a new police building, at least not at this time.”

At one point during last week’s meeting, Jerry Miguel said, “I would like to ask this board to be a little more specific with some of the questions that were raised by the citizens this evening and I appreciate hearing that $5.85 million number because that’s the first time I’ve heard that number. And like Citizen Berry, the only numbers I can really hang my hat on that I know don’t shift from time to time are the $9.8 million that was borrowed and the $14.6 (million) or $14.7 (million) that it’s going to cost to repay the certificates of — or the COPs — certificates of participation. So in round numbers, we’re talking about $10 (million) and $15 million and if you add, as Citizen Berry said earlier, $150,000 over 20 years would be $3 million. He shaved that down I think to about $2.5 million, we’re looking at right around $17 million, so in round numbers I think that’s a fair estimate of what it’s going to cost the city for this project.

“When will we have an answer or when will we have something for the board to take action on? I’ve seen numbers or dates of June the 18th or 19th for a presentation in a work session. Is that date still valid?” he asked.

Greer said, “If the board is available, it is my intention to have a work session on June, I think it was the 19th, Saturday.”

Jerry Miguel said, “… And then it would be presented to the, the project would be presented to the board on June the 22nd for a possible release for bids. Is that correct?”

Greer said, “That’s possible.”

Jerry Miguel said, “Is that your plan, sir?”

The city administrator said, “That is my plan.”

Jerry Miguel said, “OK, so that leaves three days then for citizen comment? Isn’t that a question that was asked earlier by one of the, I believe by my wife, Judy Miguel, about whether the people will have an opportunity to comment on this project.”

Greer said, “The board can set whatever schedule the board wishes. The project can’t go forward until the board has had a chance to review that. You can’t review that until you have a project that is ready to be reviewed. I’m sorry, I don’t — what, tell me what you want and …”

Jerry Miguel interjected, “… I feel some of the answers being given have been somewhat vague. A question was raised about the opportunity for public comment and based on a previous operations report, I recall those dates. To me, that doesn’t leave much opportunity for a model or something to be constructed and for it to be presented to the people.”

Greer said, “You can’t even have a model constructed until we have plans. I mean, what would I construct a model of?”

Jerry Miguel said, “Is the intention to construct a model?”

Greer said, “That has always been a specific part of the project. It is still my intention to have that done, yes … Once the board has approved design and set the bidding schedule, a model would be constructed. The schedule is in the board’s hands as to what you’d like to do.”

Greer later said, “… Part of the reason that this project has not come forward is quite candidly I do not believe that if bid today, the project would come in under budget. I just don’t believe that. The most recent architectural estimate that we have indicates that it is more expensive. When we started this process two years ago, however long ago it was, I promised the board that I would not bring you a project that was not under budget. And that has been the energy and the effort of both the director of public works, the police staff and myself is to make sure, with some degree of confidence, a project that will bid under the $5.85 million.

“One alternative that we have begun exploring, largely in reaction to the most recent architectural estimate, is the concept of what could we do to retrofit the existing building. I really hadn’t wanted to talk about this yet, but I’ve met already with the architects a couple of times. We’ve taken a look at the existing plans to see what kind of structure, whether a second floor could be put on, whether we could expand some of the exterior walls. Some of those things are being discussed and we’re trying to do a cost comparison to see if the construction would actually be cheaper.

“Now if we do something like that, we have to do something significant enough to capture the square footage that’s required, plus whatever we are displacing. Our public works currently occupies half of the basement on that side of the building. Public works has to be somewhere. Those administrative offices have to be somewhere. So we are in some very preliminary stages of trying to discuss that. I am hoping to have — it is my intention or my plan to have that information available for the board to discuss in some detail by June 19th …,” Greer added.