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Committee looks into police station possibilities

By Tyson Leonard

A committee has been formed to oversee site selection and construction of a new municipal police station.

The City of Belleville has been looking into a new police station for years. The police have said the current building no longer meets the needs of the service adequately, and Belleville city council agreed.

The committee was set up to discuss the progress and issues related to the facility. It’s made up of three council members and two community members.

Jack Miller is one of the councillors on the committee.

“There is no doubt that Belleville needs a new police station,” said Miller.

Whether the station is a new building or a current building that is renovated is still up in the air.

Miller said it would make more sense for a new building.

“If you look at how much it would cost to renovate, it would probably be about the same price as a new building,” said Miller.

Miller also stressed that the committee had no decision making power, and that in the end everything the committee does will be brought before council in a public process.

So far $21 million has been budgeted for the station, including $1 million that was set-aside in the 2012 Belleville police services budget. Mayor Neil Ellis has said that $21 million is still only an estimate though. This makes it the third biggest infrastructure project within the Build Belleville plan.

The Build Belleville plan is a combination of the current infrastructure projects that make up the more than $400 million worth of infrastructure upgrades and repairs needed in Belleville.

“I think they certainly do need something different from what they have, whether it’s a new station or a renovated facility is still up for debate,” said Murray Angus, a community member on the committee.

“(The current police services building) is very awkward, very inefficient, and in some cases not very safe.”

Angus said the committee has looked at a couple buildings that could be renovated. The committee is also planning to look at some of the neighbouring communities’ police stations to get a better idea of what Belleville needs.

“My preference would be a new building but I’m certainly open to influence on other alternatives,” said Angus.

Angus said the mandate of the committee is to oversee the site selection, the design, and the construction of the new police services facility.

“We want to do this to meet the requirements of our police services but also do it at the lowest possible cost.”

“The $21 million talked about in the Build Belleville plan is an absolute maximum. I have no desire whatsoever to spend that much money,” said Angus.

The Build Belleville website says construction will begin on the new station in the summer of 2014. Angus said summer or even fall might be a stretch, but its clear decisions will have to start being made.