The need for a new police station in Smyrna crept its way back into discussions during the 2012 budget process. As arguments were made for and against a new building, Town Council voted 4-3 to include the new police station on a referendum during the April 30 election.
With only a few months before the referendum, the town and Smyrna Police Chief Wil Bordley are steadily working towards doing another feasibility study.
So far, Bordley said they’re negotiating with an architectural firm to do the study.
“They’ll do a feasibility study as well as develop plans and present information to the public for the referendum,” Bordley said. “People need to make an informed decision and a referendum helps.”
The need’s still there
From a lack of storage space to the police department's issues with compliance, the need for a new police station hasn't diminished.
Over the years, plans have ranged from a new station on South Carter Road to expanding next door to the old Public Works building. Even though the economy was good when talks first began, Mayor Stombaugh said members of previous Town Councils never believed it to be the right time for the town.
Councilman Bob Riddagh was one member during 2012 budget discussions that said now’s still not the right time for a new police station. “Nobody wants to see a new police station more than Chief [Wil Bordley] and I but I’m not putting money to that right now,” Riddagh previously said.
Issues with the station
Having some officers working at the Public Works building on Artisan Drive has proved to be a logistical nightmare, Bordley said. With officers in two separate buildings, they are going from building to building and in the end it hinders the departments ability to help citizens.
“It’s really a big waste of time not having the officers in the same building under one roof and that’s not fair to the citizens,” Bordley said.
If it weren’t for the current facility, the department would have a better chance of getting accredited. Being accredited helps open the doors for departments to get grant money. The more grant money the department get, the less money the town has to put towards training and police cars among other items.
The lack of compliance with their holding cells is also a major issue. “We’re in compliance with the Department of Justice because our building is old and we’re grandfathered in but it needs to be updated so we can have proper division of males, females, and juveniles,” Bordley said.
There are times where the police have to use the processing area and interviewing room as holding areas just to have proper separation.
Is now the time to build?
Stombaugh said interest rates on loans and construction costs are at the lowest they’ve ever been so now is the time to build. Once the economy picks back up and the town brings more money into the town, she said they could possibly pay back the loan before it’s due.
“I’m willing to fundraise as much as possible. I don’t think we’ll raise as much money as we’ll need to build it but it’ll be less money we’d need from the town,” Stombaugh said.
The big point Bordley and Stombaugh said is for members of the public to become educated regarding these issues, which may mean people need to tour the police station themselves. Bordley said residents should call in advance for a tour; eventually the department may set up specific days of the week for tours.
Should the referendum be shot down, Bordley said they’ll continue to make things work.
“We’re going to provide the best police services that we can if the referendum is shot down. We’ll just keep plugging away dealing with the circumstances like we always have.”
Email Jennifer Dailey at email@example.com.