North Vernon officials are trying to determine the best place for a new police station because the current department building is too small and not ideally located.
Mayor Harold “Soup” Campbell and Police Chief James Webster gave a presentation at Tuesday’s North Vernon City Council meeting that outlined considerations and concerns for relocating the station built in the 1970s. It’s located at Main and Madison streets.
Engineers, architects and other city staff members will present suggestions for new sites at the next City Council meeting, 7 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Carnegie Building. The meeting is open to the public.
“It has been a good building, and it has served well; but the needs of today’s police department have changed and so has the surrounding environment,” Campbell said.
“The building is too small for the size of the department. We are very cramped,” Webster said.
The North Vernon Police Department has 18 full-time officers, seven reserve officers and three office personnel.
Webster said that the current location is no longer desirable because it sits at the edge of an area that will be used for large crowd gatherings.
“Railroad Days has been held along Madison once every year. During that time we have had to park squad cars blocks away from the station to make sure we could get in and out of the crowds in a hurry. And if we made an arrest, we had to parade the person right through the crowds.
If you go
WHAT: North Vernon City Council meeting
WHEN: 7 p.m. Feb. 24
WHERE: Carnegie Building, 143 E. Walnut St.
ON THE AGENDA: Engineers, architects, city staff members will present suggestions for new sites for the North Vernon Police Department.
That is not good, but we could manage when it was just once a year,” Webster said.
“Now, with all the Stellar redevelopment, we are supposed to have more large gatherings all around the police station. That is not a good idea. It is not safe,” the police chief added.
The police station sits at the edge of an area in downtown North Vernon currently under construction as a part of the Stellar Communities redevelopment project.
In 2011, North Vernon was one of two cities in Indiana selected as Stellar Communities and eligible to receive federal and state grants for improvements in the community.
Several area projects were included in the Stellar plan, including redesigning the area between Madison and Short streets as a public gathering area.
In front of the police station is the area that will host large public gatherings. A large parking lot spanning the area along Main Street will be at the rear of the police station. Reconstruction of the parking lot will begin by late summer.
“The parking lot is going to be like a park with landscaping and trees and so on. It’s going to be very nice,” Campbell said.
The property where the station now stands can be developed as a part of the parking lot project without any additional expense to the city, Campbell said.
“If we move the station later, the expense will all be on us,” the mayor added.
Several sites already owned by the city are being surveyed as possible locations for the new police station.
“To me the most ideal site would be in the center and north of the town, probably along State Street. That would give us rapid access to the bypass and all parts of the town,” Webster said.