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Making most of new DeKalb police station

DeKALB – DeKalb aldermen want to make sure the city gets the most functionality out of the budget for a new police station.

Public Works Director T.J. Moore said he is working with Police Chief Gene Lowery to prioritize the items that were removed from the station in order to keep it under the council-mandated $12 million budget. Some of those items could be added back if there’s enough money.

“We have backed off on facade issues so we can maximize things like evidence-handling,” Moore said.

Most of the cuts to the under-construction police station were described as design reductions. For instance, eliminating picnic tables and chairs from the outside break area saved $14,000, while eliminating planter walls that acted as a security barrier in front of the building saved $17,000.

There were operational cuts, too. Reducing the number of fences and enclosures in and around the station saved $106,484.

Moore said city officials are only focusing on elements that can easily go back into the station once it is complete. One item that will never come back is a basement. Moore said adding a basement was the most expensive part of the station on a per square-foot basis, and to keep it would force cuts in the operational side of the police station.

“We’re not really happy about [eliminating the basement], but it was a decision that made sense,” Moore said.

As for the station itself, Moore said its foundation and footings are installed, and within the next couple of weeks, the shell of the building will be erected. Moore said he still hopes to have the building enclosed before the first snowfall so that crews can work on the building’s interior throughout the winter.

“We really appreciate people’s patience during this,” Moore said.

Once the police department moves into the new station at 700 W. Lincoln Highway, city hall will have to be remodeled to allow the city’s public works and information technology departments to move back into the building.

Moore was supposed to present a proposal to examine the building before any remodeling was done, but the council’s committee of the whole meeting went long Monday and they did not discuss it.

Renovation and construction at city hall has been budgeted to cost $4.6 million over the next several years. The project would be funded with proceeds from the tax increment financing district that includes city hall. TIF money can be used to rehabilitate blighted areas.

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