Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Plans for New Police Headquarters Advance

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Plans for New Police Headquarters Advance

Article excerpt

NEW MILFORD -- Plans for a new police headquarters have cleared an important hurdle, with the Borough Council's vote to move ahead with designs for a structure that will cost an estimated $4.2 million.

The design, which the council endorsed on a 3-2 vote last week, is for a roughly 14,000-square-foot, two-story structure to be build in a "sort of neo-federal style" behind Borough Hall, according to documents prepared by Robbie Conley Architect that were posted on the borough website. The headquarters will be connected to Borough Hall by an enclosed pathway, and will have a number of facilities mandated by the state Attorney General's Office that the current structure currently lacks.

The new building would also free up space in Borough Hall to reorganize administrative offices that officials say are crammed with boxes, posing a safety hazard.

But while the vote marks the most significant progress for a project that has inspired six different designs over more than two years of heated debate, critics remain. Councilman Austin Ashley, who voted against moving ahead with the design, accused the council of rushing into the project.

The architect's needs assessment to determine the best design for the new police headquarters, Ashley said, did not explore whether the current police station could be retrofitted.

"It's an older building," he said, "but you don't just throw things away because they're 50 or 60 years old."

He added that potential renovations to Borough Hall should be considered at the same time as a new police headquarters to maximize the use of existing space and cut down on construction costs.

"We should have taken a look at the whole solution to the problem, not just one department," he said. "Whose office is going to be in the jail cells?"

Ashley, however, does not dispute that the current police facilities are obsolete. Recently retired Chief Frank Papapietro, a leading proponent of building a new headquarters, first wrote a letter to the council with a list of deficiencies in 2004 -- conditions he said persist today.

The current police building was built as part of Borough Hall in 1959 when there were only 15 police officers, Papapietro said. …

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