Plans remain on track for moving police department 8.26.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Plans to move Morenci’s police station and recycling center to the back of Wakefield Park remain alive after a motion to rescind the decision failed Monday by a 4-3 vote.

City council members voted June 8 to approve moving the police station to the former NWD building, but the action has been discussed at several council meetings since then.

Councilor Keith Pennington cast the only “no” vote when the move was approved in June and he introduced a motion to rescind the decision at the council meeting Monday.

Pennington reiterated his three reasons for opposing the move.

“I don’t want to lose the opportunity to rent the facility to a start-up business,” he said. “I’d hate to lose the shared staff between the police department and city hall. I’m not crazy about the location on a dead-end street in an industrial area.”

Council member Tracy Schell said she has not heard negative responses to the move and she addressed several questions about the move that were previously submitted to council members by a resident.

It was noted that only a small portion of the building would be needed for the police office and garage and the recycling center. The questioner asked what would be done with the remainder of the space.

The storage area on top of the offices would be used for police records, Schell said, and space not needed for the recycling center would be used to store Department of Public Works equipment and materials that are currently stored outside.

Another question asked if the existing recycling center was inadequate.

Schell said it is inadequate because it lacks rest room facilities and that it is not convenient because users must drive down an incline from Baker Street. In addition, she noted that a fork lift truck must be driven from the DPW garage behind the park to the recycling center whenever cartons of materials must be loaded onto a semi-trailer.

Another question asked about the cost of converting the NWD building to a recycling center in light of the need to partition the police area. That cost is not known.

Schell spoke of the need at city hall for additional office and storage space, and she said someone is interested in buying both the recycling center building and the existing police garage across from city hall.

The NWD building has remained vacant since a business closed last year.

“If there was interest in the building,” Schell said, “this never would have come to the table.”

Mayor Doug Erskin pointed out there has been interest shown recently in renting the NWD building, but city supervisor Barney Vanderpool said the space was larger than what the prospects were seeking.

Audience member Jan Sampson criticized council for rushing the process out of committee and to a vote without first presenting the idea to the public.

Schell agreed that should not have been done, but she added, “that doesn’t make the decision wrong.”

Council member Leasa Slocum said she presented the idea to several people where she works and the majority doesn’t care where the police station is located.

“Did you tell them how much it would cost?” asked audience member Tim Decker.

The cost isn’t yet known, she said, but because changes in state regulations will force changes in Morenci’s police station, she favors taking what she believes to be a less-costly approach rather than face a major project later.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to do this tomorrow,” she said. “We might rescind it after examining the costs.”

Police chief Larry Weeks said he and volunteers have cleaned in the NWD offices and he bought a pair of desks with money from the state “drunk driving fund.” No refurbishing work has been started and doesn’t intend to do anything until council makes its final decision.

Pennington was joined by Art Erbskorn and Mayor Erskin in voting to rescind the motion. Schell, Slocum, Greg Braun and Jason Cook voted against the motion.

  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016