Sedalia City Council discusses new police station

By Nicole Cooke -

By Nicole Cooke

The Sedalia City Council heard two options for giving the Sedalia Police Department more space during Monday night’s work session and they chose to go forward with Option B: construct a new police station.

A committee comprised of City Administrator Gary Edwards, Community Development Director John Simmons, SPD Chief John DeGonia and various other city staff members and police officers have been working with GHN Architects & Engineers, of Springfield, to come up with options for additional, needed space. Two representatives from GHN, Brad Baker and Joe Vejraska, gave a presentation Monday night about the two options — add on to the Sedalia Municipal Building or construct a new building just for the police department.

“Our guiding principles in coming in with this were two-fold,” Baker said. One was to come up with a realistic snapshot of what the space needs for the police department really are. You can’t go downstairs and measure and say this is what they need, because what they need is actually a lot bigger than what they have. Once you establish that you have to look forward into the future and say as these programs continue to become more complex, service calls continue to increase, what else are they going to need?”

The current police station, housed within the Municipal Building, has about 8,300 square feet of space, but GHN’s program analysis is proposing SPD needs more than 16,000 square feet.

DeGonia was in attendance and noted that in addition to an increase in service calls, SPD also has to deal with new and changing federal regulations that require more space than what the current station can provide, and making updates to the building to keep up with those regulations can be costly.

“I’ve seen a lot of similar cases where police departments were just not designed with future growth potential 15 or 20 years ago, so when this building was built and designed it was nothing to think the department would grow out of that,” Vejraska said. “When you walk through there it’s pretty obvious there’s just not the space for patrol officer needs, locker rooms aren’t close to the entrance, there’s limited work space. We’re using old detention cells for property storage now. They’re just crammed in there and a new building is completely justified.”

Option A is to expand the Municipal Building from the front, eliminating the grassy area in front of the existing building. Vejraska noted that the expansion would have to be vertical, rather than having the majority of SPD programs on one floor, which is ideal for police stations for proper, efficient work flow. The pair said it is architecturally possible, but that it would limit expansion of the building in the future.

Option B is to construct a new building diagonally behind the Municipal Building near the intersection of Third Street and Kentucky Avenue, which would require purchasing and demolishing some buildings; what exactly would need to be done has not been decided, as these options included only preliminary information for council to give direction to city staff. Edwards did note that the city has been in contact with the building owners for about a year. Baker said Option B has “a lot more options” and is a “better long-term solution.”

Baker also said Option B would be a little more cost efficient because the architects would not have to spend extra money matching the design and layout of the Municipal Building. They could instead start from scratch and lay out the station for prime efficiency to meet SPD’s needs. The projected cost of Option A is roughly $5.35 million and the projected cost of Option B is roughly $5.15 million.

Option B would also allow other city departments to expand into the area vacated by SPD in the Municipal Building, such as alleviating the cramped lobby for municipal court or expanding the IT department later down the line.

Finance Director Kelvin Shaw presented city staff’s proposal for funding a new police station.

“We currently have bonds, or debt, that were issued in 2007 and the balance of it is now at $4.3 million, almost $4.4 million. Since it was issued in 2007, the interest rate is a little higher than what today’s interest rates are. The debt service on those bonds are about $700,000 a year,” Shaw explained. “What we looked at is can we refinance those bonds and add new money to it and keep the debt service at about the same amount and just extend the term of that out for 20 years from whenever we start.”

Shaw added that a “catch” is that the bonds are paid through the capital improvements sales tax, which expires in 2026, so if voters don’t renew the tax in 2026, the city will have to finish paying the bonds through general revenues or another option.

Council decided to go with Option B and the proposed financing option, giving city staff and GHN permission to move forward in pursuing those options.

Councilman Don Meier was absent.

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