Police HQ issue continues
The Police Department Building Committee met Wednesday afternoon, marking the first time the members have come together in more than a year.
"Shortly after Mr. Campbell took office, as everyone is aware, there were new plans being put forth for the possibility of moving the Board of Education to Leroy, and shifting buildings. What seemed to be missing from the dialogue, at least my from my perspective, was conversation about the police department," Darien Police Chief Duane Lovello said as he opened the meeting.
"After some time had gone by, I asked to meet with Dave [Campbell] as to whether the project was being shelved," Lovello said. "He told me that in his conversations with members of the various construction trades, he thought the timing might be right to bid a project like this. However, he did not know if the town could afford it, so to speak."
Linda Santarella, the newest member of the Police Commission, who finished her tenure on the Board of Selectman in November said the town's previous administration, headed by Democratic First Selectman Evonne Klein, based its decision not to move forward because of the Financial Strategic Planning Committee's recommendation. Now, she said, it seems to stay on hold due to a new set of priorities.
"I have a problem with other projects that have been talked about recently and where we stand," she said. "Is it the senior center that's more important? Is it the moving and shuffling of all this? This is a project that's shovel-ready. So where are we?"
Lovello and Campbell met on Wednesday, prior to the building committee meeting, at which point the First Selectman told the chief he needed to "know what the actual number is."
Originally, bids taken for constructing the new police building added up to $11.5 million, but given the changes in the economy since it was first bid in October 2008, the costs have decreased by $464,000, which is a little more than 4 percent, according to documents reviewed during Wednesday's meeting.
"Why we're here today is to get updated pricing," said Republican Selectman Jerry Nielsen, the BOS liaison for the committee. "We're all aware there's serious need of renovation. ... We do not want to cut corners on the police station. We want to make sure it's built up to the standards that Darien deserves."
The facility, which has been in place for several decades, is continuing to deteriorate inside, and will require additional funds to "maintain this building in a secure and operational manner going forward" if the new building project does not come to fruition in the near future, Lovello said.
"The door frame's splitting, there are new cracks in the walls downstairs," he said. "It's just the little things. Every week, we're getting pounded with something else. We're now starting to see failure thanks to age."