By Joseph Quigley 
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  was put before council to hire the Kingston consulting firm Shoalts and Zaback  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 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:
- The site of the Neil H. Britton public-utilities building on Sidney Street near College Street West. There are two options for that site: renovating the existing building or using vacant land there for a new building.
- The northeast corner of Bridge Street West and Sidney Street (the present Belleville fairgrounds).
- The northwest corner of the same two streets, also part of the fairgrounds.
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.