Wednesday, September 23, 2020

City agrees to $225K contract for police station design

The Sparta Finance Committee last week approved hiring HSR Associates of La Crosse to design and oversee the conversion of Lakeview Elementary School into the city’s new police station.

Under the contract, the city will pay $225,000 for HSR’s services, which include developing a conceptual design of the project, bidding out the work and overseeing the project once a general contractor is selected.

Late last year, the Sparta School District accepted a $225,000 offer on the building from the city, which plans to use the school, located on Pine Street and Rusk Avenue at the entrance to Memorial Park, for a replacement of its antiquated police station on East Oak Street.

The school building, which currently houses the Montessori program, was slated to be decommissioned  in 2020, with the Montessori program moving to Lawrence Lawson.

That decision was made after the school district’s facility needs assessment performed by HSR, which included inspecting Lakeview.

“We’ve got a real good idea of the infrastructure of the building, the ins and outs of the building and the what needs to be done, perhaps, to the building,” said Brad Simonson of HSR, who attended the finance committee meeting.

 HSR also designed the new Herrman Elementary School and the addition at Southside Elementary. Alderman Josh Lydon, who also is a member of the Sparta School Board, said he worked with HSR on those projects and gave the firm high praise.

“They’re incredibly responsive and answer all your questions,” he said. “They came to every school board meeting.”

Co-City Administrator Todd Fahning said the city had the choice of paying 8% of the project cost for HSR’s services or going with a flat fee. “If you go on percentage you start worrying about time,” he said, noting the city plans to salvage all it can from the current police station like the boilers and bullet proof glass, which could turn out to be time consuming.

The $225,000 contract is based on a $3 million project. The city is scheduled to take control of the building in July. The design process will be conducted through the spring and summer and bidding is expected to begin in August. The estimated completion date is late spring of 2021.

The renovation project stands to save the city close to $2 million over building a brand-new facility. According to Fahning, the current police station on East Oak Street has too many deficiencies to meet the department's future needs.

He said remodeling the facility would be difficult to impossible because the walls, partitions, floors and ceilings are made of steel reinforced concrete because the building also served as a jail. It also isn't equipped with interview rooms that meet state standards for juveniles and its evidence storage room is woefully inadequate.

Estimated costs for a newly constructed police station range from $4.25 million to just under $5 million. HSR has done a rough estimate for the city, estimating it would cost between $2.8 million and $3.2 million to renovate Lakeview into a police station. Fahning said he's confident those numbers are high.

The city will be taking over all the land around the building, including the playground, which it would incorporate into Memorial Park. The school district would retain possession of the house it owns immediately to the west of the school, which it uses as a rental property.

Fahning has said he envisions a facility with locker rooms, a training room, interview rooms and office space for administration and for officers to fill out reports. But one of the biggest things is expanded evidence storage, which these days requires refrigeration for biological evidence.

Evans Print & Media Group

1302 River Rd.
P.O. Box 252

Sparta, WI 54656-0252

Office Number: (608) 269-3186
Fax Number: (608) 269-6876


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