Arlington Heights is taking the first steps to determine if it will be possible -- and how expensive it will be -- to build a new police station next to village hall on the existing municipal campus.
Trustees approved a contract not to exceed $70,355 with FGM Architects to study the space needs of the police department, look at the feasibility of rebuilding on the existing site and come up with several design concepts.
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The contract was approved despite concerns from some trustees about a 2010 survey, also done by FGM, that proposed a $40 million price tag on a new police station, a number that upset several officials and many in the community.
"What we were presented with was over the top," said Trustee John Scaletta. "It was too large, too elaborate and too costly. We're building a police station and we want to keep that in mind. I'm not suggesting it needs to be built with cinder blocks, but we don't need all the glitz and glamour that was presented in 2010."
The trustees and FGM agreed that the police station does need to be rebuilt, however.
The existing police station at 200 E. Sigwalt Ave. was built in 1978, and officials say the building has long outlived its productive life. The problems listed include a lack of handicapped accessibility, not enough storage or work space, and out-of-date security, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.
"I want to make sure this is a functional building but also a utilitarian building that can withstand the test of time," said Trustee Tom Glasgow, who added that with technology, DNA and forensics, the science of policing has changed since the existing police station opened.
The 38,000-square-foot Arlington Heights facility is much smaller than that of police departments of similar sizes, officials said. Palatine built a $22 million police station in 2012 that is 70,000 square feet for their department of 153 employees.
The Hanover Park station, built in 2011 for a department of 99 employees, is more than 60,000 square feet and cost $18.5 million.
Arlington Heights officials have said they can cover most of the cost of a new police station within the existing debt service level since several other bonds are set to retire in the next few years.
FGM was not the lowest bidder on the project, but officials said they had the most relevant police station experience and also had more work hours dedicated to the project in their proposal.
FGM will meet with the village board for several concept meetings over the next few months and present a number of designs by the end of 2014, with a final report due in January or February 2015, said Ray Lee, principal for FGM.
Lee said the firm will work with the village to be cost-effective.
"It's not, 'How big do you want your office?' It's 'What do you do in your office?'" Lee said.
FGM acquired Sente Rubel Bosman Lee Architects in 2011, so none of the same staff members from the 2010 study will be working on the Arlington Heights study now, he said.
State Rep. Carol Sente, an owner of Sente Rubel, will be the client advocate on the Arlington Heights project, meaning she will work with both sides to make sure all questions are answered.
If during the process the project team or village board doesn't think it will be feasible to build what the Arlington Heights Police Department needs on the current site, both sides will need to reassess.
Lee said the team would stop its work and redirect toward another site for an additional $3,900 fee, but that would require a change order and approval from the village board.
Charles Perkins, director of planning and community development, said the village has identified a number of possible sites during closed session meetings that could also work for a future police station, but those won't be pursued until the board gets the results of the FGM study.
"When I look at the property adjacent to (village hall), it's very apparent that there's very little space to go anywhere but up," said Trustee Carol Blackwood. "Thinking about how technology keeps getting smaller, I'm starting to think that bigger isn't always better here."