CASPER, Wyo. — The City of Casper is exploring the possibility of constructing a new police headquarters.
James Estes with Police Facility Design Group, PA helped conduct a feasibility study and space needs assessment for the Police Department.
That study concluded that a new facility is needed.
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The Casper City Council is holding a special work session at 4:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 29 to discuss the study for a new police headquarters along with a new fire station.
“The current facilities are inadequate to conduct routine public service functions,” the study says. “The growth in the service population, and the evolution of policing and the delivery of those services in the community of Casper have placed a demand on the existing facilities that has exceeded the capacity of those facilities to efficiently support law enforcement operations.”
“The buildings as they currently exist will become increasingly deficient in the future when additional staff are required.”
That study identifies four different options for the city to consider should they decide to either build a new police headquarters or convert an existing space:
1) Reuse of the existing Hall of Justice by renovating existing space and expanding the floor space by constructing a new addition, attached to, and/or immediately adjacent the current structure
2) a building of new construction on a clean site to be identified
3) renovate and expand the former Sears space in the East Ridge Mall
4) renovate and expand the former Star-Tribune building.City of Casper
The study provides a cost estimate of each option.
“[I]f an expansion to the Hall of Justice was the preferred development scenario to advance, the most reasonable option to put forth would be the placement of it on the current County parking lot to the immediate south of the Hall of Justice,” the study states “The proposal developed under this option would be the development of a basement level parking garage with two floors built over it.”
“This garage would replace County parking lost to the building footprint built upon it. The two floors of Police and Courts space built above the basement garage would meet the programmed space need.”
Constructing a new building would give the city the most flexibility in designing a building to meet the needs of the Casper PD.
“Our planning for new construction on eight acres affords design flexibility of the building structure, sufficient parking with designated and secure parking for Police fleet vehicles, and room for expansion beyond the needs of the 20-year planning period,” says the study. “New construction on a sufficient site will serve not only the Casper Community today, but for the next generation to come.”
The former Sears space inside of the Eastridge Mall was also considered as a potential option.
“While our evaluation has determined that there is an opportunity for construction cost savings versus new construction there are serious concerns,” says the study. “Chief among these concerns is the party wall the Police Department would share with an unknown neighbor in the adjacent mall space.”
“Additionally, the mall is designed as retail space and is intended to move large numbers of both pedestrians and vehicles through it and around it. Sound security planning for public safety facilities intends to control and minimize traffic around the building and is in opposition to this style of planning use.”
The fourth option involves converting the Star-Tribune building into the new headquarters.
“The current Star-Tribune site area is just over 4 acres,” the study says. “The existing programmed space requirement including building and parking fit
on the existing site but are extremely tight.”
“The railroad tracks and potential for a hazardous chemical spill merely feet behind the building represent a threat to a 24/7 critical use building operation such as that of a police building. Additionally, the building sits at an undesirable location for a public safety building being at the end of a dead-end road.”
The study recommends constructing a new building as the option providing the best value to the City of Casper.
Of the three renovation options, it recommends the Eastridge Mall option as most feasible.
The study calculated forecasts of future staffing needs at the police department in determining the need for a new headquarters:
Given these figures, Police Facility Design Group, PA then calculated the space needed to house such a staff in square footage:
The full study is included in the work packet of the city council.