New Police Facility Up For Discussion

current-site-3Staff recommends design and build in next 3-5 years depending on economy.

On Tuesday staff will ask council to discuss allowing staff to move forward on one part of the proposed civic center needs, that of the Police Department.

The PD’s current facility is a sturdy building that is too small for the current department needs.  As one who took the tour offered by the village, storage and desk space are the main shortfalls.  What was once an office for one is now an office for three, evidence and records the PD is required by law to keep are scattered into several different locations.

Cramped and make do describe many areas of the building.  Designed when the PD had about 70 employees, DGPD now has about 115 (I can’t find the exact number and I know I have it) department members.  Formerly spacious areas are now cubicles jammed together.  The HVAC does not function properly, and has defied expensive attempts to make it work right because the building is no longer configured internally as it was built.

A web-based video tour of the Police Station will be made available on the Village website on Tuesday, March 24.

The current building is 27,000 sf.  From the green sheets:

  1. Police Station: Within the next 3-5 years as the Village’s financial position allows, design and construct a new Police Station on the west portion of the existing Village-owned Civic Center site (currently used for commuter parking). The size of the facility will be approximately 70,000 square feet with a total price currently estimated at $33.5 million.
  2. Village Hall: Maintain the existing Village Hall facility for a period of at least 10 years. Major system maintenance and repair is estimated not to exceed $500,000 over the 10-year period.
  3. Counseling and Social Services: Evaluate future use of the facility at the time of the design phase for the Police Station, as the current site may be required for Police Station construction. If this is the case, consider relocation of departmental service to another Village facility or alternate location.
  4. Fleet Services Garage: Maintain the existing facility for a period of at least 10 years. Major system maintenance is estimated not to exceed $100,000 over the 10-year period.

At 70,000 sf, that’s a big building.  At $33.5 million, that’s a lot of money.  Here’s how the space study broke it down in net square feet of need:

  • 4,540 Public area including lobby, meeting rooms, interview rooms, and   public restrooms.
  • 2,054 Records storage.
  • 1,870 Village Operations Center (VOC).
  • 3,762 Patrol Division and Emergency Management.
  • 2,498 Investigations Division.
  • 5,740 Evidence storage.
  • 2,340 Administration.  This includes, according to past planning documents, “a closet” for Chief Porter.  I would note Chief Porter’s office, at a projected 280 square feet (including “the closet”) is smaller than Fire Chief Phil Ruscetti’s office at the Fire Department.  I’m not trying to start anything between our two top safety officials, not saying size of office says anything about the relative importance to the community.  Just sayin…
  • 1,102 DARE/COP/Crime Prevention.
  • 5,380 Training and firearms practice range.
  • 3,790 Detention and booking area.  This includes the “Sally Port” area where detainees can be transferred from police vehicles in a secure area.
  • 6,160 Shared staff area.  Locker rooms, break room, workout room, staff entrance.
  • 1,120 Archival storage.
  • 12,600 Indoor parking.  Due to the slope of the site, this will be underground and exit to Curtiss Street.

If you’re counting, that’s about 53,000 square feet of need.  Given that DG isn’t going to grow much size wise in the future, this can be considered a final needs space.  The space needs do not include hallways or stairways.

Current site layout

Current site layout (click for larger image)

Staff has indicated in the past that two sites were under consideration for the PD.  The industrial area Ellsworth Park site (that would have to be purchased) appears to have fallen to the wayside.  Placement is at the primary site, the 69 space parking lot to the immediate west of the current Police Department.

Conceptual diagram from page 107 of the PSA Dewberry report.  Green and blue are for Police Department use, orange and red for Village Hall use.

Conceptual diagram, page 107 of the PSA Dewberry report. Green and blue are for Police Department use, orange and red for Village Hall use.

Click on the image to the right and note the blue and green areas.  This was the favored location for the entire civic center facility; the green and blue areas are for the PD.  The actual size and shape of any building will not be exactly like this, but it gives you an idea of scale, and if they place it on the site properly, it would still leave space for future needs, that can still be accomplished at a future date, by adding on to the north side, and adding a parking deck that can be used for multiple purposes.  For this new PD facility, commuters will lose some parking, employees will lose some parking, and Social Services will probably have to move.

Staff has also committed to shooting for LEED silver certification.  LEED silver will add about $20,000 to the front end cost of building for certification, and adding to the cost of some components, like high efficiency insulated glass for example.   It saves money at the back end, which has been well established by hundreds of completed projects around the country.  Cost/benefit analysis of green building find a front end investment of less than two percent of construction costs yields life cycle savings of over ten times the initial investment.

Stormwater requirements have changed since the original civic center buildings were put into place.  there’s a 36 inch diameter concrete pipe that carries St. Joe’s Creek under the property that will cause some problems working around.  From the PSA Dwberry Study:

Additionally, stormwater management creates a significant challenge. Planning calculations indicate that as much as 2.56 acre-feet of runoff storage may be needed (See Section 2.4 Storm Water Regulations). The actual storage amount could vary widely based on the type, development and methodology required to determine stormwater run-off and storage. This runoff potentially could be stored through detention ponds, underground storage (enlarged pipes), parking lots, roof tops or a combination of these. The Village could consider the use of porous materials for the parking lots to reduce run-off coefficients. This storage volume is for planning purposes only. It suggests that the need for storm water detention may have an important impact on the redevelopment of the campus site.

Storing water in pipes is not a best management practice when dealing with stormwater.  On site mitigation with bioswales and rain gardens, along with use of permeable surface coverings and extensive plantings (especially trees), all do a better job slowing, cleaning, and absorbing water than simply holding it for later discharge as is.  A green roof on the new PD facility would be a huge benefit not just for mitigation and cleaning, but for cooling the building in general.  Visit the Lyman Woods interpretive center for more information on this; you will be amazed.  Or google green roof and learn.

Show me the money!

Show me the money!

How do you finance a $33.5 million dollar public works project given the current situation?  Staff recommends 30 year bonds that would require an annual debt service of $2.2 million dollars for 30 years.  That appears to assume a 5% interest on issued bonds, and would bring the Total Interest Cost (TIC) payback up to about $66 million.  The same amount over a 20 year period would require an annual debt payment of about $2.6 million, resulting in a TIC payback up about $53 million, a downstream savings of $13 million to taxpayers.

Although no rationale has been put forth so far on why 30 years instead of 20, since this could rightly be considered a “final” PD, spreading the cost that far out makes a certain amount of sense.  One of the principles behind municipal borrowing is to spread the cost of expensive projects over many years in order to capture payments from all who will benefit from the initial expense. Since residents 30 years from now will still benefit from an effective, efficient, and happy police force, they can help pay for the building that helps make that possible.

Note that the total construction costs of the PD facility are actually more in the area of $26 million, as outlined on page 4 of the green sheets.  staff managed to come in on the $10.2 million FS#2/admin building almost $1 million under budget.  I can’t say there are similar savings that can be realized, but if this project moves forward, any innovative cost savings measures that don’t compromise long term usability of the building should be looked at, and probably will be looked at.  Village Manager Dave Fieldman and AVM Mike Baker are proving to be fiscally conservative and hawkish, not a bad thing to encourage.

So where does the village find $2.2 million a year for 30 years or $2.6 million for 20 years, when they’re laying off and chopping back right now?  Good question.  If council wants to talk revenue, will red light cameras be part of the revenue discussion (I hope DG has moved past any safety pretense on RLC)?  Will this trigger another round of talk of raising fees, and creating new fees?  Council tries to attach a dedicated revenue stream to bond issues.  that’s responsible, and that should continue.  Expect at least some discussion at some point about that sticky wicket.

This is the front edge of discussion on the topic.  The needs analysis has been done for a couple years now, the village offered tours to residents so they could see first hand the situation, and as stated above, there will be a web-based video tour of the Police Station will be made available on the Village website on Tuesday, March 24.

Read the green sheet details here.

Read the PSA Dewberry study here.


10 Responses to “New Police Facility Up For Discussion”

  1. John Schofield Says:

    Have I missed something… where’s the evaluation of alternate sites, such as Elsworth Park as previously mentioned?

  2. markthoman Says:

    There is no indication in the current green sheets that Ellsworth Park is being considered for a site.

  3. John Schofield Says:

    I’d like to see more discussion of site selection. Other sites worth considering: The now abandoned Ogden/Lee development, to which the village has already paid to extend sewer service; and the decaying shopping center at 63rd and Woodward. The proposed site is not “free” because it will have be replaced with other space for parking, etc. IMHO the Village Hall site should be saved for purposes with greater public benefit, such as a future arts center.

  4. Marge Says:


    I often hear the mention of an Arts Center, but I need help in understanding what you exactly are looking for.

    For example, we already have performance space available downtown in three different sizes. The Tivoli, the Downers Grove Lodge, and Lincoln Center, larger to smaller. There is also public exhibition space at the library for visual arts.

    Do you want to have one big space for everything?

    Wouldn’t that just be redundant, or worse yet, drive the others out of existence?

  5. John Schofield Says:

    Marge, let’s not lose the focus of this thread, which is the police station.

    The arts center is not something I want or don’t want, it is something that has come up in several consecutive Citizen Summit meetings and at the TCD3 kickoff meeting.

    My general point is, the land under consideration is not free. It is currently used, and that use will have to be replaced. And it is also a prime piece of real estate for broader civic functions than a police headquarters, things as diverse as an arts center or a community swimming pool.

    I’d like to see the police headquarters in a more “industrial” part of town, while reserving the current site for future public use. Higher and better use.

    By the way, the co-location argument lost all credibility in my opinion when the police and fire headquarters were not proposed for a single consolidated public safety building. There is no particular advantage in having police headquarters next to the Village Hall while the fire headquarters in elsewhere. So put the police headquarters in Ellsworth Park, on Ogden, or on 63rd.

  6. Marge Says:

    Sorry John, just thought you might be the guy who could finally give me an answer on my “Arts Center” questions.

    I, too, have heard “Arts Center” mentioned at the above noted meetings over the last few years. I have sat at the table with the people who advocate them. Every time I have asked pointed questions, I just get blank looks, shrugs and “I don’t know” type answers. Outside of the Citizens Summits and TCD3, I never hear anyone saying that an “Arts Center” is something DG is woefully lacking. A pool, maybe, but I won’t wade in there, it too is off topic. I’m just trying to understand the thinking is all.

    Anyway, I agree with you that the land in question is valuable. I personally can’t see why fleet services is in that location, it should be over in Ellsworth by public works IMO. I would sooner move that than the police station.

    As far as the police station goes, I really could see it at any of the locations that you mentioned. But they would all require tacking on roughly another 5+ million to the project. A project that needs to be done ASAP from what I saw on the tour. The current site is pretty large. There is no reason, even if the proposed police station is built on this site, that there wouldn’t also be room for a new village hall and something like an Arts Center or pool, as long as the fleet services gets moved.

    In the current economic times, tacking on roughly another 5+ million for additional land seems wasteful to me. With the proposed jump in state and federal taxes looming and most of the 58 schools needing new roofs, I just can’t see burdening the residents of DG with one dime more in taxes than is absolutely necessary right now.

  7. Martin Tully Says:


    For the relevant background on a potential perfroming arts center, you may want to check out the Final Report submitted in February 2005 by the DG Performing Arts Study Commission, an ad-hoc group of citizen and organization volunteers tasked with assessing the need for a performing arts center and making various recommendations about proposed locations and potential funding options. Although now over four years old, the report is still pertinent to the issue. Doug Kozlowski (who was the staff liaison to the ad-hoc commission) can probably get you a copy, or I can if you prefer.


  8. Marge Says:

    Thank you Martin! I have asked Doug for a copy and I’m sure he will get it to me ASAP.

  9. Emily Tremmel Says:

    Has anyone thought about the fact that this is going to leave DG even shorter on commuter parking spaces than it is now? There is a waiting list for parking 3 years long! Is the Village going to replace that parking?

  10. Emily Tremmel Says:

    And, if we’re going to build a new building in 3-5 years, why is the Council going to approve $166,000 next week to replace the HVAC in the existing building this year? I know it’s uncomfortable, but the proposal for the replacement doesn’t make the situation sound dire.

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