Highland News Leader

Here’s what Highland’s $7 million public safety headquarters will look like

Concept art for Highland’s $7 million public safety building that gives the city police department, firefighters and EMS an updated base of operations.
Concept art for Highland’s $7 million public safety building that gives the city police department, firefighters and EMS an updated base of operations.

New headquarters for Highland’s police, fire and EMS are starting to take shape.

Concept designs and schematics for Highland’s new $7 million public safety building, to be built off Troxler Avenue, near the hospital, were revealed last week at a meeting of the city council, along with changes to the design that helped the project get back under budget.

Newly sworn-in Chief of Police Chris Conrad presented the information alongside representatives from Loyet Architects, the Highland-based firm that helped design the building.

The new building will update outdated public safety facilities throughout Highland. The project also includes renovations to Fire Station No. 1, located at 1115 Broadway, where the city’s EMS team is currently headquartered.

Loyet was brought on to the project after an early design came in over budget. Since then, Conrad said, city leaders and Loyet have made several moves to bring the project back to its budget.

“The last time we showed designs of the building we were way over what we were prepared to spend,” Conrad said. “So last spring we started working with Loyet architects to start to redesign the proposal for the public safety facility and we started by polling our employees so we can work through and design something that will work with our daily jobs.”

Conrad said getting an idea of what city employees needed in the day-to-day not only made the design more conducive to their work but also ended up saving money in some areas

To get the project within budget, the total size of the building was reduced by roughly 12,000 square feet. Design changes also were made to lessen the cost of construction, while adding a basement and a multi-purpose and training room

Conrad said with the current design the building should have a 30 to 40-year lifespan, based on past growth trends, and will allow both the department’s to roughly double in size.

“Based on our past growth trends should give us a 30 to 40-year lifespan without any major reinvestment,” Conrad said

Free space that is being used for storage could be readjusted to make room for growing needs..

A lack of room for any sort of growth is partly why the design was necessary. The city’s police and fire stations are both around 35 to 40 years old and have a laundry list of issues stemming from the age of the buildings that include:

  • Not complying with American with Disabilities Act standards;
  • Inadequate living quarters and amenities at the fire station that do not accommodate men and women;
  • Inadequate office, storage and evidence space;
  • Structural issues like leaking roofs, collapsing retainer walls, crumbling driveways, rotting woodworking, steep stairwells and foundational issues;

  • Lack of sally port and a prisoner transfer area at the police station;

  • No separate bathrooms for witnesses and police officers;

  • The police station is in a residential area, out of sight from the public eye.

City Manager Mark Latham said it isn’t clear how long the construction of the building might take, but said bids would go out in January. Loyet and Associates is the firm designing the building. The firm’s president Matthew Loyet echoed that estimate. Currently the city and firm are working to keep the 31,000-square-foot building and renovations near the $7 million estimate.

Loyet said the firm will present concept art and more plans for the building and renovation to the city council next month.

The project is being funded by a half-cent sales tax that began in July 2018.

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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