Architects and Greenwood officials on Friday approved the schematic plans for a new police station set to open in summer 2015 in the center of town.
The plans call for adding 5,000 square feet to the existing 5,000-square-foot old Post Office building at 250 Old Hackett Road. The city also closed on the property on Friday. In January, the Greenwood City Council approved a request by Police Chief Will Dawson to spend $318,250 on the property.
"We’re planning on leaving the existing 5,000-square-foot building pretty much intact on the exterior, and actually adding onto it to the east and to the south," said Michael Lejong of MAHG Architecture in Fort Smith.
In December, Greenwood voters overwhelmingly approved a quarter-cent tax to fund a new police station. The tax, which the City Council unanimously approved to put on the ballot at its October meeting, will sunset in 20 years.
The Greenwood Police Department currently operates out of a 1,000-square-foot room in the back of City Hall. A needs assessment projected that the department would need a station with at least 14,000 square feet, Dawson said in July 2013.
Capt. Richie Wolford, who attended the Friday meeting to review the plans, said he wasn’t worried about not having the additional 4,000 square feet initially proposed.
"I think it’s going to be just fine," Wolford said. "We should have plenty of room for many years to come."
Along with the additional space, the new police station is planned to feature a new training and multimedia room that could seat about 40 people, Wolford said.
"That’s something we’re looking forward to. If you go out of state, or anywhere, for training and it’s not comfortable then it’s not a conducive learning environment," Wolford said. "We host a lot of training and we send our officers to a lot of training, so it’ll be helpful to be able to be on site."
Greenwood police have previously held training meetings and other gatherings at the school district’s performing arts center and the amphitheater at Bell Park, Wolford said.
The station also is slated to have two holding cells to temporarily contain suspected offenders until they are processed.
"Basically, right now we’ve got a steel bench that’s got handcuffs," Wolford said. "If we have more than one or two that we have to detain, then we have to hold them in our interview room."
Having a larger station will make the day-to-day operations of the department’s 20 officers much easier, Wolford said.
The projected overall construction cost of the project is about $1.88 million. An initial plan called for $3.2 million to build a new 15,000-square-foot building, but that plan was scrapped in favor of renovating the old Post Office building, Lejong said.
"I think we’ve done a really good job going through and analyzing the cost of each of the different categories, looking at renovation cost versus new construction cost and then trying to keep everything in line with their budget," he said.
Wolford said he felt discussions with MAHG Architecture over the plans for the new station have gone smoothly.
"They’ve been very receptive to any concerns or potential problems that we’ve pointed out — they’ve addressed them, and even offered some of their own suggestions," Wolford said. "They’ve been very easy to work with."
The company will begin working with consultants during the next few months to complete construction drawings, and hopes to bid the project by mid-August, Lejong said.