Police expansion still up in air

Posted 3/30/09

To be or not to be, or maybe the question is when will it be — at least when it comes to expanding the Littleton Police Department. In an …

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Police expansion still up in air


To be or not to be, or maybe the question is when will it be — at least when it comes to expanding the Littleton Police Department.

In an unexpected move at a March 17 meeting, council decided to not transfer money from an inactive Water Utility Fund to a Special Projects Fund.

The transfer would have allowed the city to pay off about $3 million in outstanding debt, and to expand the police department — a project that has been in the works for many years.

The problem lies in a 67,000-square-foot building at 1101 W. Mineral. After nearly two months of offers and counteroffers, and discussions about utilization studies and appraisals, council in a 4-3 vote, brought the project to a screeching halt.

The motion required six votes to pass but failed with Mayor Doug Clark and councilmembers Jim Taylor and John Ostermiller dissenting.

“The driving force behind this is that we have a 14,000-square-foot problem we’re trying to fix with a 67,000-square-foot building,” said Clark.

Clark, who repeatedly has said the police department’s immediate needs include only a crime lab and more evidence storage, favored a 14,000-square-foot, new stand-alone facility at the Littleton Service Center, which was voted down at council’s annual workshop.

Since council’s Jan. 30 workshop, many debates have ensued regarding the size of the Mineral building in comparison to the police department’s actual needs.

Some members argue the Mineral building is a comprehensive solution to the city’s needs beyond the police department. They want to move the entire department with the option of moving other city functions as needs develop.

Other council members, like Clark, want to accommodate the police department’s more immediate needs, which include a crime lab and more evidence storage.

Two weeks ago, council made a decision to conduct a utilization study to see what it might cost to bring the Mineral Building up to code, and what it would cost to move the entire police department with police and fire dispatch.

A week after that, on a 4-2 vote, they decided not to conduct a utilization study, but to get an appraisal on the Mineral Building instead.

“There was a majority vote to go ahead with the Mineral Building without getting a cost estimate,” Clark said.

Council was planning to make a second offer on the building after getting an appraisal, according to Clark.

An appraisal could still happen, but since it takes a majority vote to actually transfer the money, those hands in favor of the Mineral Building are tied.

“I’m hoping the majority favoring the Mineral Building will realize that with this direction and procedure, it won’t happen,” he said. “Whatever the solution is, it has to be something that the super majority agrees to.”

Though she agrees the entire council needs to reach a consensus, Councilmember Debbie Brinkman said she didn’t expect the money transfer to be voted down.

“What was most disconcerting was the lack of discussion,” Brinkman said. “This isn’t what we determined at the workshop. It was a way to block the Mineral Building.”

Brinkman, who says she received an anonymous tip on the vacant building, introduced it as an alternative for solving the police department’s space issues at council’s annual workshop Jan. 30.

“This was the crescendo of the angst of council members,” she said, in the next breath adding, “we all want what’s best for Littleton, and we have philosophical differences. There’s a need for quality dialogue.”

Council will proceed with their dialogue when sessions start back in April.


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