January 16, 2013

CPD office could move across town

The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — The city council will vote at the next meeting on whether to convert the old army reserve building near the high school into the department's new home.

Currently the police department is located in downtown Chickasha, but with growing staff and reoccurring necessary building updates, the city is looking to convert the reserve building to a new police station that would better fit the local officers.

"The reserve center would allow expansion as needed," City manager Stewart Fairburn said. "Better parking flow, better access, as well as gated parking for more security."

Police Chief Eddie Adamson suggested that if there is more room at the new location then more law enforcement help could make its way to Chickasha.

"If we have a space for them and we give them a place to hang their hat, they'll probably come," Adamson said, referring to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. "The current location is somewhat limited due to the structure. The reserve center has a lot of land next to it."

The current police building is currently estimated to sell for $1.5 million, Fairburn explained.

Council members and staff tossed around ideas for what the current police building could be used as once it's vacant. Some ideas included storage for the city, office space, commercial or for non-profit.

"Downtown wouldn't work as well for renting or selling," Fairburn said. "There are two buildings, both need a lot of money. The reserve building may need a little less, but wasn't the big difference I was hoping for."

According to Special Projects Director Steve Chapman, $250,000 has been spent on updating the current police building. A $50,000 generator was purchased but can be relocated to the new building.

"I would like to hire a new architect with fresh eyes," Chapman said.

But Councilwoman Phylis Steelman expressed her concerns with that plan, remarking that she'd hate to see downtown lose its historic details.

Once the final decision is made on which building the Chickasha Police Department will make its permanent home, the construction process will move quickly, according to Chapman.

"We're going to move very fast," Chapman said.

"I think it makes a lot of sense," Councilman J.E. Epperson II said. "But we need to find a use for (the current police building) or get rid of it."

Chapman explained in order for the city to sell the current police station, they must get a public vote from the citizens.

"I say we go to the reserve center," Mayor Hank Ross said.

The current police building is located at 101 N. 6th St. The old army reserve building is located just south of Chickasha High School's baseball field, Elliott Field, at 2001 W. Iowa Ave. Final decisions and votes will take place at next City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21 at City Hall.