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Councillors concerned about slow process for new police headquarters

BELLEVILLE - 27/03/13 - The current police station at 93 Dundas Street East was constructed in the 1960’s, and renovated in 1985. Photo by Tyson Leonard [1]

The current Belleville police station at 93 Dundas St. E. was constructed in the 1960s and renovated in 1985. File photo by Tyson Leonard, QNet News

By Joseph Quigley [2]

BELLEVILLE – A plan for a new headquarters for Belleville Police made some progress at city council this week, but councillors expressed concern about how long it will take to finish designing the building.

A proposal [3] was put before council to hire the Kingston consulting firm Shoalts and Zaback [4] to evaluate options for the new headquarters. The cost will be $67,239, the lowest of five tenders that the city received for the consulting work. The proposal was approved, but not before a discussion on how long the headquarters will take to build.

The background details written on the request to city council to hire a consulting firm to help decide on where to build a new police headquarters. Photo courtesy City of Belleville [5]

Background details provided to councillors by city staff  about the process of hiring a consulting firm to help decide where to build a new police headquarters. The excerpt above lists the options under consideration . Photo courtesy City of Belleville

The process of examining possible locations for the headquarters is expected to take four to five months. Many months will be needed after that to finish designing the building and to hire a contractor to build it.

Coun. Paul Carr said the time frame is too uncertain.

“I feel like we’re kicking the can down the road. We see it making its way down there, but we don’t see the finish line,” said Carr. “What the community is looking for is timelines. All we’re seeing is these short timelines, and with the short timelines, we’re not knowing what we’re getting in terms of the final result.”

Rick Kester, Belleville’s chief administrative officer, said it is difficult to know when shovels could hit the ground for the headquarters and how long it will take to build.

“Assuming we get out of (the process of deciding on a location) by the end of April, we have to go through a tender call (for design) that will take two to three months,” Kester said. “From then, you have a whole detailed design process. Then you have a tender process (for construction of the building), and then you have a shovel.”

He added that construction will also take a long time because of the probable size of the headquarters. The building has been discussed as being 40,000 square feet or more.

“To build a building that big it’s probably at least 18 months once they start digging,” said Kester.

Coun. Garnet Thompson said he wishes the project could be done faster.

“I certainly would like to see us (speed it up), so that we can get get a police station that the public wants – (that) we want,” said Thompson.

There are three locations under consideration for the headquarters:

Kester said that some time could be taken off the process by reducing the number of options to be examined.

The consulting company’s task “is to finalize the needs assessment – what facility we are going to build,” he said. “The next part is to figure out what the (building) will look like at each site. Each one (of the options) has a unique cost. Council, you’re going to want all the information to make a big decision – you’re going to want to know those costs.”

The consulting firm is expected to finish examining the locations by April.