Yes, we need a new police station. The current location is a former bank building. Although it could be renovated it would require the department to move out during the renovation process which is not a realistic or viable option. And a renovation of the current building would not address other site issues such as inadequate parking and department expansion.
I am also aware that Fire Station #2 on East McGaffey requires either a major renovation or a new facility. The current station was built in the 1940s and does not meet the needs or requirements of today’s trucks or equipment.
The city is proposing to construct a new public safety facility to combine the Police Department, Fire Station #2, the Municipal Court, administration offices and dispatch at cost up to $35 million. At first read this appears to be a sound decision. However, I have several major misgivings.
The city’s plan requires a new Fire Station #2 to be an integral part of the project rather than as a separate “stand alone” facility. This severely limits the locations for the new complex in order to maintain the response time requirements for this station which is located on the lower east side. This may result in a less than ideal location for the new police station. And it may require the city to acquire land rather than utilize properties already under city ownership such as Cielo Grande or the old Yucca Center, for instance.
Combining of the police, fire, courts and administration in a single location may be recommended for many municipalities, especially very large cities where travel between the facilities may be prohibitive due to traffic and long distances. This is not a consideration for Roswell. Some argue that one location makes the facilities more vulnerable to disruption or sabotage, not less. And it does not make economic sense, especially when the county provides the Pecos Valley Regional Communications Center.
And, although the old bank building makes for a terrible police station it would make a terrific municipal court building. I believe the city can meet their objectives at half the cost, therefore I have come to this conclusion: Police Station, yes. Fire Station, yes. $35,000,000 public safety complex no.