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.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017