As previously reported, on February 13th, the Township Committee introduced an ordinance authorizing the expenditure of no more than $4,500 from the Township’s reserves for the completion of a needs and cost analysis for new police department facilities. At its February 27 meeting, the Township Committee gave final approval to that ordinance. The Township Committee subsequently approved hiring the Gibson Tarquini Group, an architectural design firm, to quantify the Township’s facility needs and determine the cost of upgrading the existing facilities.
When the meeting was opened to the public, resident Aileen Naples said that when she had to file her statement about a recent break-in, she was appalled at the conditions in which the police work. The police department is currently located in a trailer adjacent to the municipal garage. Dominick Naples said, “I agree with the proposed study. The police should have a state of the art facility.” Some residents are concerned that a new police station would add to the tax burden of residents. Another resident, Chuck Cline, said the police department needs a new building, but he questioned why the Committee would hire a consulting firm from outside the State to conduct a study, saying that the proposed study is a waste of money.
Mayor Madden said, “The Committee needs a cost estimate for a police headquarters for budgeting purposes. This firm is experienced in designing municipal facilities for variously sized municipalities.”
Although Mr. Bond was the only committee member voting against the expenditure, he did not disagree with the need to review and upgrade the existing facility. Mr. Bond opposed the spending because he believes the Township can develop its estimates of the needs of the police department and the cost of a new or upgraded facility through discussions between Chief Bruce Mast and volunteer residents with construction expertise.
At the suggestion of some residents, an ad hoc committee to study the needs and facilities of the Delaware Township Police Department has been created. Chaired by Township Committee member Kristin McCarthy, its members include Ron Bibbo, Gary Hinesley (this author), Police Chief Bruce Mast, Township Committee member and Police Commissioner Jim McCue, Aileen Naples, Steve Pasternack, and Cynthia Sulewski.
That committee met March 15. Following an outline drawn up by Ms. McCarthy, the committee will perform a needs assessment and facility planning for the police force. Individual members have been assigned particular tasks. Under the heading of needs assessment, the committee will study the historical context of the police force; it will collect data on the frequency and types of calls the force responds to; it will review the number of police officers and the number of police cars; and it will perform a cost/benefit analysis and determine the effect the police department has on the local/municipal tax rate.
Under the heading of facility planning, the committee will study the existing site where the Police Department has its headquarters, and look for alternative sites and determine whether it is appropriate to move the force from its current site. An architectural sketch for a new facility is included in the approved spending and building grants will be researched.
During the meeting the committee learned that the small trailer where the police are currently headquartered has an energy bill three times as high as the larger building where the Township Road Department operates. Awareness of the poor energy efficiency of the trailer gave the impetus to the study of the police facility. The Police Sub-Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for May 3 at 7 PM in the Municipal Building.