City staff recommends use of existing police department
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – A site evaluation study regarding the current Marshfield Police Department facilities pointed right back to the city’s current location. The study was recently completed by city of Marshfield staff, with assistance from a consultant, following an in-depth look into facility and space needs completed in 2018
“(The 2018 facility and space needs study) did verify some deficiencies in space – primarily in the garage space. We’ve known that for a number of years, to add garage space; the study verified that need,” said Public Works Director Dan Knoeck. “But, it also pointed out that there is deficiency in meeting room space in the current building and that there is inefficiencies in the layout of the current building. We have functions within the department that are worked together, but are split up by different locations. So, there are some, over the years, inefficiencies that have been built into what is there today and those could be corrected through some remodeling.”
The study also identified some costs for remodeling, ranging from $3.5-6.3 million. It also identified work that would need to be addressed with the building in the next 5-10 years, ranging from $1.7-2.5 million.
“Some of those costs overlap, so if there is going to be a remodeling project we would take care of some of the deficiencies in the building. In any case, the takeaway is there is some rather large investment in that site, and that building, needed if it continues to function as a police department,” he said.
After receiving the results of the space study, council questioned if the location was the best option to continue serving as the police department and directed staff to organize a site evaluation study to compare the current site to other options.
The space study also identified the cost a newly-constructed facility around $11-14 million, which did not include site acquisition.
“(We are) talking about some pretty big numbers,” Knoeck stated. “It made sense to take a step back, just to look at (if this is) the right spot for that kind of investment.”
Eau Claire firm Five Bugles Design, the same company that completed the space study, was brought on board to assist with a site evaluation.
“The scope of the work was to evaluate the existing site against other potential sites to identify what makes other sites better, what makes our current site deficient. It wasn’t necessarily to pick a new site, to pick a specific site; essentially just to understand what make our site deficient and what would be better in the ideal site,” Knoeck explained.
A staff team was established to work with the consultant, consisting of: Police Chief Rick Gramza, Assistant Police Chief Pat Zeps, Administrative Services Supervisor Lorrie Krokstrom, Development Services Director Josh Miller, City Planner Bryce Hembrook, City Engineer Tom Turchi, and Knoeck.
The committee developed a selection matrix including aspects, such as: effective size and shape, expansion potential, access to major thoroughfares, and other major considerations.
The team then generated a list of eight considerable sites including the current one, toured the sites, and rated them.
“We weren’t trying to pick the specific site, but areas, trying to find what attributes make these sites better,” Knoeck explained. “We had two sites north of the tracks and five sites south of the tracks.”
Knoeck said that the existing site ranked third in the final evaluation, due to factors such as: public access and visibility, access to thoroughfares, and the fact that expansion and remodeling there would be much lower than building new.
However, the site is still too small, expansion to the south would impact parking, and there is sometimes congestion at Chestnut Avenue and Veterans Parkway.
Knoeck said that the two sites that ranked better had better size and expansion capability, more distance from railroad tracks, and less potential for traffic impact. He added that both sites, however, would sacrifice the current central location.
“Staff recommendation is a solution that would make use of the existing site – both from a cost perspective, which is significant and would be less than half the cost of a new site, as well as the central location for that site being highly visible, highly accessible, and well established having been there for nearly 40 years.”