Public safety building specifications ordered

The Princeton Police station at 705 N. 2nd St., which was created in about the mid-1990s by remodeling a structure that was part of the old Princeton hospital/medical clinic complex prior to the new hospital and clinic opening in 1993, on Northland Drive.

The city of Princeton has ordered plans and specifications to be drawn up to construct a 22,540 sq. ft. public safety building at an estimated cost of $2.05 million.

The estimate does not include design fees, any subsurface investigation and/or soil corrections, de-watering, furniture/fixtures, equipment and exterior door card access. The $2.05 million estimate also does not include three additions the council is considering adding to the consultant’s plan sheet – bituminous paving of the rear parking and driveway area (estimated at $50,000), underground roof drainage system to send water to existing storm water pond (estimate $8,000), and an additional 15-foot-wide bay to house trailers (estimate $80-90,000).

The city council’s decision last Thursday to order plans and specs for a public safety building follows many years of discussion about replacing the undersized, 1969-era Princeton fire station, and also the police station, which  department administrators say is inadequate.

City Administrator Mark Karnowski noted that with this council action, the city could likely go out for bids this coming January or February and possibly break ground in May. The structure would be located just south of First Street in the city’s Aero Industrial Park north of the airport.

A public safety committee, consisting of representatives of the police and fire departments and the city, had been looking for some years at spending nearly $6 million on such a structure. During that time the committee tried unsuccessfully, several times, to get the state Legislature to pay for about half of that cost through state bonding.

With those failed attempts, the committee ended up proposing a scaled-down version of the structure and, with the council’s blessing, decided to use the city’s off-sale liquor fund. Karnowski is seeking advice from city consulting firm Northland Securities about the idea of selling revenue bonds that would be repaid with liquor store profits.

Karnowski told council members last Thursday that he anticipates the city’s off-sale liquor store should gain more sales and thus more profit once the new Walmart store opens just yards away, near the interchange of Highways 169 and 95.

It was council member Thom Walker who made the motion  to go out for the public safety building plans and specifications, with council member Dick Dobson seconding it. Walker, a carpenter, suggested getting the project going now. He stated that he is seeing contractors getting busier in recent time and the city needs to get on the contractors’ list.

The council motion states that the city consider having mentioned features of the extra parking bay, paving, and roof drainage by having them as alternate bids.

Greystone Construction consultant Jeff Hensel gave a presentation on the proposed building at last Thursday’s council meeting, which the council then discussed before passing the motion on plans and specs.

Hensel noted that the project he estimated at $2.05 million, would have four  parking bays for the fire department to store eight fire trucks and one trailer. Hensel talked about the committee having examined the idea of adding a 15-foot-wide addition to the building so more trailers could be enclosed. The fire department has three trailers and the police department has one.

One idea the committee discussed was to construct a stand-alone garage for more trailer storage, as an alternative to adding the 15’ wide bay.

The fire department uses multiple trailers to store and carry specialized equipment. It has to do with the city being designated as one of the locations where in the event of a problem at the Monticello nuclear-fired generation plant, Monticello evacuees would be directed to Princeton. The Princeton Fire & Rescue Department would in that case be the lead agency to check the evacuees, their vehicles and pets for any possible radioactive contamination and then decontaminate.


Fire department tower

One alternative feature the council discussed, but at the suggestion of Fire Chief Jim Roxbury, gave low priority, was a 12’x 19’ fire hose tower at a cost of $80,000. Roxbury said that some fire stations have used such towers for drying fire hoses but now that the modern hoses are not canvas, hoses can be dried well enough without a tower.

If there was a choice between spending money for another parking bay or including a tower, the parking bay would be the best choice, Roxbury said.

Karnowski noted that the fire department has been putting money into a fire station fund that could be used to finance the cost of the additional parking bay.

Mayor Jeremy Riddle said he believes the city could consider a stand-alone, four-stall garage instead of spending $80,000 on an additional parking bay because the garage could be built for perhaps $25,000 or less.


More on the features

The new building would have a large training/meeting area for the two departments and much more office space than they presently have. The Princeton fire station does not have an office space beyond the small area where the radio dispatchers sit. The new structure would have separate offices for the fire chief and assistant chief, plus one room for four captains to each have a desk.

A large lobby is shown on the Greystone Construction sketch, with the fire department’s antique fire truck parked there on display.

The police station would have separate rooms dedicated to specialties such as evidence, records, hard interview, soft interview, evidence process, video, itox investigation, weapons, gear, phone room, storage, break room, reports, squad room and separate offices for chief, sergeant, investigator, reserve officers and future investigator.

Also planned on the police station side would be locker room, showers, clerical area, reception room, conference room and squad car parking.

The fire station side would have rooms for dispatch, kitchen, admin/files, storage, day room, locker room, showers, tools/work area, and a chair storage room.

This is the farthest along that the fire department has ever gotten toward obtaining the station that it needs, Roxbury said after last Thursday’s council meeting.