The new year could bring a big makeover for the Vernon Hills police headquarters as the village board considers capital projects for 2014-15.
Opened in 1992, the building at 754 Lakeview Parkway has been described as being ill designed for current uses, as 25 percent of its space is underutilized. The roof and heating/air conditioning system also need to be replaced, according to a study of the facilities. That cost alone is estimated at $700,000.
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While the conditions have been known for more than a year and discussed informally by the board, an estimated $3.5 million fix for the flagship building has emerged as the single largest project on the proposed capital improvement wish list.
"It's really a dysfunctional building right now," Village Manager Mike Allison said. "I think there's a definite desire now, at least by the staff, to consider this more seriously," in the upcoming 2014-15 budget.
The original police department building includes the administrative offices, locker rooms, work areas for command officers, investigators and command staff, evidence storage, a prisoner handling area and jail, a shooting range and lunchroom.
A dispatch center also had been housed there but was expanded and moved next door to 740 Lakeview Parkway, the former American Family Insurance building, which was acquired by the village in 2007. The department's records section also was moved there.
Including an interior courtyard in the middle of the 754 building, about 25 percent of the existing floor area in that facility is vacant, underutilized or outdated, the village board has been told.
"It was beautiful when it was designed but over the years things have changed. Our needs have changed," Chief Mark Fleischhauer said.
He noted, for example, that nearly twice as many female employees are jammed into a locker room meant for 11 people. In another section of the building, 12 department employees are working in a space meant for four, he added.
"The lobby is underutilized and when it (the building) was designed in the early 1990s, the ratio of female to male officers was not proportionate," Deputy Chief Jon Petrillo said. "The design needs to be more efficient for today's workforce."
Among the suggested changes are: repurpose the former lobby, records area and dispatching center, a roll call room and work areas for officers and command staff; "recapture" courtyard to expand investigations, including construction of two interview rooms; and, increase the number of lockers for female employees.
Adding a new employee entrance and creating changing rooms for telecommunicators at an estimated cost of $97,000 are suggested for 740 Lakeview Parkway.
Whether the project makes the cut and whether it would be done all at once or in phases, as well as determining the best way to pay for it, are among the questions the board will consider in upcoming sessions.
"This is still very much in the initial stage," Allison said.
Borrowing the money through a bond issue, using cash reserves or using revenue from an increase in the sales tax rate are among the possibilities. Trustee Jim Schultz has asked for an analysis of village cash reserves to determine an appropriate level.