New city police station on its way from virtual to actual reality
A new city police station project has virtually gone high-tech.
Members of the police department were able to view the new station during the design phase with virtual reality equipment and provide feedback before the actual construction gets going, Chief Shawn Heubusch said.
“When we completed the VR tour, we were able to ‘walk the halls' and see some of the details that we would have needed to wait to see until walls were built,” Heubusch told The Batavian. “This allowed us to really pick out if a window or door was in the proper place or if the adjacency of rooms was correct for everyday use. This will save time and money during the construction process as it will require less change orders further down the road.”
Being the second most publicly traveled city facility — with City Hall being first — it’s important to get the building and details right, he said, and should save money from the typical myriad change orders of large construction projects.
Project Manager Ken Pearl presented the designs and a timeline during this week’s City Council meeting. A 20,000 square-foot building will take up a front portion of the parking lot at Bank Street and Alva Place.
A total of construction, engineering, equipment and material costs is estimated to be from $13 million to $15 million, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said.
At least 115 public parking spots are to remain after construction, in addition to free public parking on surrounding streets, “which would more than adequately serve the needs of existing businesses on Washington, Alva and State Streets,” she said.
This has been a long time coming, given prior consultant studies, Task Force Committee meetings and discussions about how to proceed with the current station housed in a 167-year-old building. Known as the Historic Brisbane Mansion, the Main Street site has been deemed unsuitable for police operations, and renovations were ruled out as being too costly.
“There have been no less than five studies conducted since 1991 to determine the future of the police station in Batavia, as well as a citizen task force commissioned to investigate possible site locations,” Tabelski said. “The location of the new facility was identified by the task force in their top three site recommendations.”
The new facility will improve “the quality, efficiency, security, and regulatory compliance features of the services and activities of the department,” she said. It will also enhance the opportunities to meet community-oriented policing needs, and become a space to conduct community events, including educational forums, police-assisted addiction recovery initiatives, explorer post, citizen academy, and focus groups.
“The new station and headquarters will be designed with accreditation standards in mind, including LEED and will be ADA compliant,” she said. “In short, the new station and headquarters will be a welcoming place for all persons in our community.”
LEED is a third-party green building certification program, and these buildings are, according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s website, proven to save money, improve efficiency, lower carbon emissions and create healthier places for people.
Heubusch highlighted the fact that the Brisbane Mansion was to serve as a residence, and has been renovated throughout the years to fit the needs of city government.
“However, the current facility does not meet regulatory requirements as well as ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements for a modern facility, not to mention the regulations surrounding a police station. The new police station will be better in every way; it will meet the department's needs for proper workspaces; interview rooms; evidence storage; vehicle storage; victim and witness interview spaces; training spaces; a community room; proper lobby and records facilities; proper locker and shower facilities and secure parking for our staff and visitors,” Heubusch said. “In short, it will be a welcoming and professional, purposely built facility to meet the needs of the Department and community for the next 50 years or more.”
Tabelski further expanded on the current station’s misgivings: it was built in 1855 and retrofitted for purposes other than a residence since the city took on ownership in 1918. Continuing to renovate the station as a modernized version to include the various operational and legal requirements “is cost prohibitive,” she said.
City Council approved the new station in 2021 and approved Ashley McGraw Architects PDC of Syracuse in January 2022. Pearl said that final figures won’t be nailed down until the project goes out for bid and council awards contracts for the work.
Construction documents are to be finalized by February, with the project to go out for bid in March. Contractor bids are expected in April, and construction is to begin sometime between May and July, Tabelski said.
And now for the big question: how will this be paid for?
The new station would be financed by the city with a 30-year public improvement serial bond, Tabelski said.
“The City will pursue various state and federal grant opportunities in an effort to offset the cost,” she said.
For anyone wanting to view the renderings in person, they are available at City Hall, she said.
Top Photo of the new city police station to be built at the corner of Bank Street and Alva Place in downtown Batavia; a view from the side of the building, in front at night and toward the rear next to a parking lot. Renderings by Ashley McGraw Architects courtesy of the City of Batavia.