New police training facility in Cary approved
McHenry County and Cary officials have approved an agreement allowing the county to take ownership of the Cary Village Hall and convert it into a police training center.
Both boards unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding at their respective meetings on Tuesday, which transfers ownership of the Cary building to McHenry County. The building will become a police training center for the McHenry County sheriff's office and other county law enforcement agencies in 2022 after Cary moves village operations from the building later this year or early in 2022.
"This is a partnership we've been working on for a number of years, to try to consolidate some of our resources and try to provide a better product and save some dollars. At the end, I think this accomplishes both," McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim said during last week's county committee of the whole meeting.
Officials said the new facility will be used by the McHenry County sheriff's office and law enforcement agencies around the county. None of the county's law enforcement agencies have a dedicated training facility, and they often travel outside the county to complete training.
"One of the things we're excited about with the training center where we're going to be able to bring all communities together at the same time is we're going to be able to expand all types of training," Prim said.
The agreement also calls for the county to acquire space at Cary's public works center for an indoor shooting range. Approval for the range will come later in 2022.
Cary Mayor Mark Kownick addressed concerns from residents who live near the village hall who were worried about extra activities at the building. He said the new training center will continue functioning as an administrative building and residents will not be impacted by any training. Kownick also said the Cary Park District, located next to the village hall, will be staying. The pool, however, will be closing.
County board members were excited about addressing a need that has been on the county's plate for years.
"This was controversial when it first started and I have not heard anything [since it was announced]," board member Carolyn Schofield, R-Crystal Lake, said last week.
Some board members questioned Prim on what kind of training would be taking place at the new facility, specifically asking that it include training for police officers on diversity.
"We already are conducting diversity training and we're mandated to do so," Prim said.
The new training facility will not only be for the police. The building also can host training sessions for fire departments, dispatchers and other emergency services, and these agencies will have the opportunity to train together. Details on how the property will be shared are still being worked out.
McHenry County spokeswoman Alicia Schueller said the county is paying $1 for the ownership transfer of the 20,485-square-foot building.
Cary has had plans to move out of the building at 654 Village Hall Drive for several years and began construction on a new village center at 755 Georgetown Drive last year. Cary officials in 2019 said the current village hall had aged and no longer met the village's demands.
Renovations to the building to outfit it for its new role as a training center will only take place on the inside, Kownick said, and no changes will be made to the building's exterior.