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Copley trustees take new police station off back burner

1/31/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

COPLEY — Two-and-a-half years after hiring a Dublin-based architect to do a needs assessment for a new Copley Police Department station, Copley Township trustees have given the OK to draw up plans.

Trustees, in a special Jan. 22 meeting, authorized David King, of Horne and King Architects, to begin work on plans for the new building.

After lengthy discussion of four options presented by King, trustees opted to proceed with a plan that includes a 100-seat multipurpose room/backup communications center. The price tag for the facility is estimated between $5 million and $6 million. It will be located along Sunsetview Drive on property the township acquired when it purchased the Copley Community Center, said Fiscal Officer Janice Marshall.

Trustees requested King design the multipurpose room so it could be used as a backup communications center with dispatch services in case of a disaster. The multipurpose room also could be converted into a full dispatch center should the township ever dissolve its joint dispatch arrangement with the cities of Norton and Barberton. The joint dispatch center will be located in Norton and open in June. For details on that, see related story on Page 1.

Trustees have long discussed replacing or renovating the outdated and overcrowded police station. However, concerns about the economy and cuts in state funding to local governments prompted trustees to put the project on the back burner in 2010 after the needs assessment estimated costs for the new facility.

The new police station would be almost three times as large as the current station, trustees said. It’s a much larger project than construction of the Stony Hill Station, said Trustee Dale Panovich. The $4 million fire station, a joint project with Bath Township, was completed in 2006.

Once the plan and a firm cost estimate are completed, trustees will explore options for funding, which include low-interest government loans and selling bonds. Trustee Helen Humphrys said the township has set aside some money for the project, but will need to finance most of the construction costs.

Although there was some discussion about disposition of the current police station and the Copley Community Center Building, trustees deferred any decisions until a later time. Options include renovating the current police station for use by community groups and razing the community center.

Trustees said the community center currently costs the township $60,000 a year in utilities whether the building is used or not. The building also has a mold problem that needs to be abated, trustees said.

The current police station is structurally sound and would be a “very efficient” renovation project, King said. Renovation of the community center and outfitting it as a training facility for township safety forces were estimated at $600,000, according to township officials. Demolition was estimated at $100,000.

Trustees expressed commitment to maintaining township-owned public meeting space.

“To do this right, you have to think money, of course, space and the community at large,” said Humphrys. “If we take something away [the community center building] from them, we’re going to give it back in the [old] police building.”

“It’s [the current police station] a solid building ... and it’s cheaper to maintain,” said Panovich.

In other business, trustees:

• approved accepting a no-match grant for a $50,000 fingerprint scanner from the Department of Homeland Security through the Summit County Emergency Management Agency;

• approved training for the police department;

• approved applying for an Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recycling grant for the annual township used tire collection; and

• approved applying for a $20,000 ODNR grant with a 20 percent match for cleanup of tires at the old police firing range.

The next regular Copley trustees’ meeting will take place Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. in the Copley Township offices, 1540 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road.

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