Archive for Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ribbon cutting highlights new Tonganoxie Police Station

Event unveils latest municipal building

October 19, 2016

As about 30 people attended a ribbon cutting on a crisp and chilly fall morning this past Thursday at the new Tonganoxie Police Department, Mayor Jason Ward joked about the weather and said it was fitting because police Chief Jeff Brandau thought it would be “a cold day in hell before he had a new police station.”

It’s been a bit of saga for the department in getting a new home. Officials moved into the new station, which is in the former Cornerstone Family Worship church at Sixth and Church, in August. Discussions for a new station first began in 2010.

The department spent many years at its longtime home at the northeast corner of Fourth and Delaware, but Brandau cited various issues for a move, including mold in the basement and that the department had outgrown the space. When it was determined the former station wasn’t safe because of the mold issue, officials moved across the street to the west to a space in the office building Calvin Quisenberry owns. The department moved in there in what was to be a temporary solution until a new home was found. That was in 2012.

The City Council looked hard at various options and pursued the former Everlasting Specialties in the Urban Hess Business Center, but the two sides eventually couldn’t come to an agreement, and that plan fizzled. The building now is home to a new Leavenworth County Annex. The building was repurposed and opened earlier this year.

The City Council looked at a police station to be constructed as a new build with other amenities being part of that package. But after much deliberation, the idea eventually lost out to another potential repurposing project.

Enter the spot at Sixth and Church streets a block east of U.S. Highway 24-40.

Brandau glowed talking about the new station during Thursday’s ceremony.

He spoke highly of the renovations to the building and the importance of it being “a professional space to work out of.”

The facility spans 6,000 square feet over two levels. An additional building was built northwest of the repurposed station and is 1,300 square feet.

The former police station in the Quisenberry building was a 1,000-square-foot space.

The former sanctuary area was transformed into several rooms, including conference room space, a shared office for two sergeants and an interview room. There also are separate offices for the chief and lieutenant and space for the police clerk. The clerk greets visitors near the north entrance. Though the clerk’s area will not be staffed around the clock, visitors can enter the foyer area at all hours. A phone is available to call Leavenworth County Dispatch after office hours. A water fountain and public bathrooms also are accessible through the main entrance. The main level now has 13 rooms total.

Downstairs, there is a receiving area where officers can bring in anyone who would need to be detained. A fence will be constructed around the property on the east side with an automated gate, so anyone officials were to bring into the station can be held in a contained area.

The downstairs has two interview rooms, along with bathrooms, a shower and a kitchen/dining area for officers, which is a secured area away from the processing area.

Much of the building will look new to visitors, though the bathrooms and kitchen are existing areas from when the building was a church.

As for the additional building, it will be home to various evidence that will be secured beyond a fenced-in area. The building also allows for some room for seized vehicles.

And the parking lot area will serve as an exchange zone for children going between parents with custody arrangements. It also is available for exchanges of goods being obtained through agreements on Craigslist and other online sites.

There are surveillance cameras taking footage of the exchange area at all times.

At Thursday’s ceremony, Brandau also pointed out ornamental police sconces from the 1890s he found in the West Bottoms area of Kansas City, Mo., that greet visitors at the front door.

He commended Chip Marquardt for his work in constructing poles for the sconces and the flag.

Brandau praised several people for helping make the project a reality, including Monica Gee and Susan Freemyer with their work in Friends of the Tonganoxie Police.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Brandau said.

Ward thanked many for their work on the project, including HTK Architects, the City Council, Osborne Construction and the department’s police officers.

“We can’t thank you enough,” Ward said.

The station was part of a $608,000 project The Osborne Company did in repurposing the former church into a police station and the former post office downtown into a new City Hall, with the majority of costs coming from police station renovations. The city purchased the former church building for $275,000.

Several officials from the city and USD 464 were there, including former council member Bill Peak.


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