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Government

Plan To Renovate Law Enforcement Center In Newton Moving Forward

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A plan to renovate the Law Enforcement Center in Newton is moving forward.

The building houses the Newton Police Department and the Harvey County Sheriff’s office. The city and county commissions agreed to hire an architect to draw up construction plans and get a cost estimate on the remodel work.

The city has been evaluating the facility needs of the police department for the past 10 years.

"The police department is out of space in the current facility, and it also has some significant security issues," says Erin McDaniel, director of communications for the City of Newton.

McDaniel says the city was considering building a new facility two years ago, but the idea was dropped after a new city commission was elected in 2016, and community members voiced concerns about cost and location.

McDaniel says a citizens committee was appointed, and after studying the options, the committee recommended the remodel plan.

"Obviously a remodel doesn’t add any space to the existing building, but it’s hoped that it will make more efficient use of space, relocate some operations and collaborate with sheriff’s office with joint uses of space," McDaniel says.

Once the plans are complete, the city and county commissions will still need to approve the project before construction can begin.

"The problems are significant enough that they feel that something must be done now," McDaniel says. "So that’s why they have arrived at this remodel plan. So I believe that we will be moving forward with this project."

The renovations are expected to be in the $3 million range. McDaniel says once the firm estimates are known, they’ll work on a cost-sharing agreement with the county. Harvey County owns the Law Enforcement Center building, and the police department operates on one side as a tenant.

The current building was built in the early 1970s and originally housed the Newton City Hall.

Beginning with the 2017 budget, the City of Newton has been setting aside $250,000 a year for police facility needs.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

 
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