By Jeff Gallatin
City officials have made their case to City Council for moving forward with nearly $500,000 in interior improvements to North Olmsted’s police station.
Council was expected at last night’s regular meeting to approve on suspension placing the work out for bid in an effort to move the project along faster. The improvements will include upgrading the lobby area for the public, increasing the size of the dispatchers’ area, upgrading the locker room areas, including providing better facilities for female officers, and renovating the detective bureau and command areas. They are the second phase of the city’s work on the station. Phase one was done last year when it improved the outside access areas, where much of the work was done to comply with requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
City officials said the second phase will result in major changes to the station.
“It’s pretty extensive,” police Chief Jamie Gallagher said. “When the station was built 30 years ago, the ADA regulations weren’t as much of a requirement as they are now, so this is something we’re glad to get done and make the station better for everybody.”
Planning and development Director Kim Wenger said the improvements will make the building ADA-compliant and make it easier for staff and citizens to use.
“It’s being designed with all the different needs in mind,” she said.
Wenger said the city plans to have the bids advertised by June and awarded within a few weeks, with a plan to get the work completed within the year.
Safety/service Director Scott Thomas said the upcoming project is the result of collaboration among many people.
“We had a lot of the key city people over to see that there is a need for this,” he said. “There’s no question that we need to have upgrades within the building.”
Thomas said some of the police department personnel have been helping with some of the touch-up work, such as painting and preparing the portions of the locker room areas for the work.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm throughout the department for this work,” he said. “They appreciate that they’re going to be getting some nicer facilities.”
Gallagher said the improvements to the locker room and dressing room facilities will benefit all the officers.
“When they did the building, there weren’t any female officers,” he said. “Since then, we’ve had a good number of them, and continue to have them on the force. The entire locker room area will be upgraded for all officers.”
He said facilities for all supervisors will also be upgraded in the work.
“The detective bureau supervisor will be inside the new renovated bureau, which is something we’ve wanted to do for a while, but haven’t had the money or facilities to do,” he said.
Both Thomas and Gallagher said the improvements to the dispatchers’ work area will provide better access to areas for eating and using the restroom. There also will be enough room to add more dispatchers if the city wants to do that.
The waiting area for the general public will also be upgraded, Thomas said.
“Combined with the improvements made last year, everybody should find that they should be able to get around the station easier when the work is done,” he said.