The Board of Selectmen at its most recent meeting approved a $12,000 lump sum payment for a New Britain-based architecture firm to come up with schematic designs for a renovated New Canaan Police Department building.
The “renovate-as-new” NCPD project design from Kaestle Boos Associates Inc. at the existing South Avenue site “will include an overall site plan, floor plans, elevations for all facades, a 3D fly-around,” according to Joe Zagarenski, senior engineer in the New Canaan Department of Public Works.
“They will also present these findings to the Police Department Building Committee,” Zagarenski told the selectmen at their regular meeting, held April 5 at Town Hall and via videoconference.
“Prior to requesting final proposals for architectural services for the PD building, the Building Committee would like to have the opportunity to see what Kaestle Boos’s approach would be to the project,” Zagarenski said.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the $12,000 contract.
Moynihan, after pushing for an alternative site for years, conceded during a March 31 special meeting of the Building Committee that the future NCPD will remain at 174 South Ave., saying, “The town leaders have decided that there’s not an appetite to pursue an alternative location.”
Referring to a news item that appeared the same day on this site, Moynihan said during the April 5 meeting, “Michael Dinan referred to it as ‘conceding’ the point—but the fact of the matter is my preference all along has been to do a new building somewhere.”
“We have not been able to find a location somewhere for a new building,” he continued. “We essentially are going to build a new building within the structure on South Avenue. That is why we are going to vacate it. The difference here is Brian Humes [of Jacunski Humes Architects LLC] had recommended we keep the back half of the building—sort of like a Town Hall thing, we kept the front of the building, demolished the back, we built a new back—Kaestle Boos is really of the mind that we really should build a new building at the back. Their design option will reflect that and then we’ll open to the two architects as to who gets the contract moving forward. But I think we are probably moving towards this option, or the Board of Finance and Town Council may decide they don’t want to go into this option. But the fact of the matter is, it will take another month in the contract. We’re moving the target date to finish up to May 1st, so that we can have the cost estimated so that by the middle of May we are going back to the Building Committee and probably a joint meeting of the Board of Finance and Town Council to approve a transaction to renovate. So that’s the plan here. We did have bonafide offers to buy South Avenue for multi-family housing, but are going to renovate.”
Corbet asked whether the cost estimates for “both options” will come in prior to the town moving forward on a project.
Moynihan said yes.
“It may be a better solution,” he said. “The back half of the building really is the patrol function, and we give the patrol officers the equivalent of a new building. The administration and the office workers with records and detectives will be in the main building. Police department buildings are very complex these days, so starting fresh with a whole new building may be the answer. We don’t know the cost of that. It will probably be closer to a new building elsewhere.”
He added that the town has concluded that it will not have a firing range in the renovated building or possible new rear of the building. A regional council of governments is looking at the prospect of a shared firing range for area police departments, and New Canaan is trying to identify a place in town here it could run its own firing range, possibly to share with Darien, Moynihan said.