With a unanimous approval vote, members of the Oakdale City Council gave the green light to proceed on a major, and long overdue, $2 million overhaul on the Oakdale City Police Department, starting with the removal of harmful asbestos from the aging building.
The City received three bids for the project. CNW Construction, Inc. came in with the lowest bid for the facility improvement project, at $2,141,000.00.
The money, which the City has been saving for this express purpose, will come from three City accounts: Facility Maintenance Fund, General Government Capital Facilities, and Police Capital Facilities.
City Councilman, Christopher Smith, was among his peers with support for the project, saying, “We’ve been saving money for this, we’ve got the time for this, we’ve got the calendar set for this, I think this is the time to do this. It’s obvious it needs to be done. The facility is falling apart and it’s not going to repair itself.”
Patrick Mondragon, Assistant to the City Manager, presented the council with a presentation that detailed the various improvements and changes planned for the major project, which include interior, exterior, and facility upgrades, as well as reconfiguring the entrance to the station to be alongside the current City Hall entrance.
In addition, the city will also be undergoing a major green upgrade with the installation of solar panels that will cover most of the North Second Avenue parking lot, protecting vehicles and equipment from damage caused by the sun. Mondragon said, “This project is totally separate from that but coordination efforts will be made to ensure proper timing of solar project and facility improvement projects.”
Discussions regarding an OPD station overhaul have been floated around for years but it’s finally happening and not a moment too soon.
Mondragon said, the aged exterior of the Police Department/City Hall Complex has several significant concerns such as dry rot and improper sealing resulting in moisture seeping into office spaces, potentially damaging valuable equipment.
Safety and security concerns are also at the forefront of the project. The current parking structure does not contain a security gate, allowing anyone to enter the parking lot and have open access to police vehicles. It also provides an opportunity for prisoners to escape should they be able to break free before booking, according to city documentation.
Lastly, customer access to the police station is often difficult due to the current layout of the department, with the front entrance on North Second Avenue. Part of the facility upgrade plan is to relocate the lobby to North Third Avenue. This will provide easier access for the public.
The four primary goals of the upgrade are:
· Rehabilitating the exterior of the building;
· Enhanced security;
· Improved functionality and floor plan layout;
· Protect and secure vehicles and equipment.
The construction project will replace the rotted wood and other materials such as improvements to the awning and roofing that cover both City Hall and OPD, as well as upgrade the electrical and IT/communication systems.
Improvements to the surrounding area will include security fencing that will go around the perimeter of the Police Department and back side of City Hall, with part of that security fencing being electronic where Police Officers can swipe a security scanner and enter the secured area of the station where they book detainees.
Parking lot improvements will also be made, by tearing out the current public parking lot along South Second Avenue and installing new asphalt. New parking spaces will include ADA parking access.
Mondragon said, “This is a rehabilitation project designed to replace old existing materials, improve dispatch center and property/evidence room layout, provide a security perimeter, and extend the life of the Police Department/City Hall building for at least another 15 to 20 years.”