The City of Wood River continues to make progress on its new police station. The new facility is being built on the northeast corner of the former Amoco refinery property through a funding agreement with BP.
BP and Wood River successfully completed a transfer of a portion of the site near the intersection of Madison Avenue and 6th Street, and it has been full steam ahead on the project ever since. Wood River Police Chief Brad Wells says construction could be done as early as November, but there will still be lots to do at that point.
"Once the building is complete, it will then take us some time to transfer everything over," says Wells. "We’ll have to move our radio systems, technology components, and all the evidence we have at the old site. Maintaining chain of custody with all the evidence and ensuring everything is accounted for will be crucial."
Wells says the department plans to start moving late in the fourth quarter of this year, then have the new station fully operational during the first quarter of 2019. "We want to take our time to make sure all the bugs are worked out and that our dispatch system performs as expected."
Wells says the project has brought a sense of enthusiasm to the department, "As the progress of the new police department nears the final stages, it’s exciting to see what the police department will be operating in to keep the City of Wood River safe! Every police officer in this city knows we work for each citizen who lives, works, or visits Wood River. Seeing the new police department being built has already spurred excitement and boosted morale within the police department. High morale creates a great work product. "
"We have a very dedicated and experienced police department. The new building will create a better, and very much needed, work environment for the police officers. We currently have operations working from two separate buildings. The new building will consolidate everyone under one roof. This will enhance efficiency of the service we provide to our citizens."
The police department long ago outgrew the current station, which was built in 1976. In addition to more room, the new station will include a workout area, additional jail cells, a kitchen area (the only running water at the old site is in the restrooms), vastly improved parking, and a secure sally port area for transferring those who have run afoul of the law. There will also be a training/emergency operations area that will be large enough to host meetings of the multi-agency Southern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission (SILEC), which could provide a benefit to local restaurants and retail outlets.
City leaders also hope the development of the new police station will spark renewed interest in reuse potential for the rest of the former refinery property. "The new police station is great for Wood River on a couple of levels," says City Manager Jim Schneider. "First, it’s a benefit to the community in and of itself. Beyond that, though, we hope this project will draw interest from potential developers who may want to put other areas of the former refinery property to good use."
In closing, Chief Wells commented that although the new facility will be occupied by the Wood River Police Department, it belongs to the community, "The new building does not belong to the police, it belongs to everyone we serve as police officers. We can’t thank BP enough for bringing this opportunity to our city!"