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Design reveals plans for proposed New Garden Township police barracks

05/03/2016 01:14PM ● Published by Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

To those who are assigned with the enormous task of keeping New Garden Township safe, the April 25 presentation that unveiled the township's planned 19,500 square-foot police barracks served as a blueprint for the future. To those elected officials who may eventually be charged with the enormous task of raising the money to pay for it, not so much.
With New Garden Police Chief Gerald Simpson at his side, Detroit-based architect Daniel Redstone presented a space needs assessment on April 25 for the township's proposed police barracks which, if it ever gets the green light, will be constructed on the site of its current location on Gap-Newport Pike.
Referring to a diagram on an overhead screen, Redstone gave a “tour” of the planned facility, which would provide law enforcement with a greatly improved work flow space, and would include expanded holding areas; a sally port to usher prisoners into holding areas; offices for detectives and police administration offices, including a space for record storage; a property room; public entrance and public areas; a staff training room; both mens' and womens' locker room areas; and expanded parking areas for both police and the public.
“The purpose of the process is to work with the police department and the township to identify what it is that you're trying to achieve with your police department, identify your goals, and develop a space needs assessment to help identify the magnitude of your police station, and incorporate those elements that are needed,” said Redstone, whose firm, Redstone Associates, specializes in the design of police facilities.
If there was an elephant in the room during the presentation, it was the current New Garden Township Police facility – an 1,100 square-foot makeshift of inter-connected trailers, built as a temporary office space after mold infestation closed the unit's former barracks. The current location is not safe physically, Redstone said, and environmentally, there is no circulation for either police officers and civilians. The new facility, he said, would also offer officers the comfort of confidentiality – the proper space needed to conduct the business of policing.
The design of the planned facility has been done with the anticipation of the projected merger of the New Garden Township police with the West Grove Borough police force which, if approved later this spring by both municipalities, will combine a staff of 35 to form the Chester County Regional Police Department, sometime in the fall.
“As we go around the country, there is more and more collaboration and sharing of police departments. Individual police units don't work anymore,” Redstone said. “They're too expensive. Everywhere we go, were seeing consolidation of facilities, and this projection identifies a lot of those items that would be needed.”
As Redstone continued his presentation, a second elephant in the room emerged: The estimated price tag of a facility, one that would ultimately be paid for out of New Garden Township's budget. Redstone told the township's supervisors that a 19,500 square-foot police facility of this kind would cost between $6.5 million and $7.5 million – about $300 per square feet – if the project were to begin in 2017. The lifespan of the facility, Redstone said, could last as long as 40 years. 
Recognizing the need for a new police facility but realizing that the township has budgeting limitations, supervisor Steve Allaband asked Redstone if there would be a possibility of building the new barracks in phases.
“Right now, the need is for a new facility, but I don't believe we need 19,500 square feet,” Allaband said.
“Can we do it in phases?” Redstone told Allaband. “The answer to that is 'Yes.' The question then becomes working with the chief and you, the holders of the money, in terms of what you have to spend today, and what will happen [to the needs of the police department] in the future. As you grow and incorporate other jurisdictions, you're going to need a place to hold prisoners in a secure place. Yes, we can do it in phases, but we would have to identify primary needs for [initial] construction.
“It comes down to whether or not the public wants to support its police safety department,” he added. “It's not just a design. It's a business plan. It's the willingness of the community to support its public safety program. It's a difficult process. No one wants to spend the money, but philosophically, we all profited because our parents and grandparents invested in us.”
Simpson insisted that Redstone's presentation was not intended to ask the supervisors for the funding to begin the proposed facility next year, but merely to lay the groundwork for discussion that identifies the new facility as a potential destination.
“We're not asking to build a 19,500 square-foot building in 2017, because we may not have the funding, but we have a facility issue that has been sitting there long before I got here,” Simpson said. “This organization sat in a mold-infested police facility for I don't know how many years before it moved from that temporary solution into this temporary solution. It's inadequate. It's unsafe, and it's tiresome.”   

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@chestercounty.com.



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