A new home for the Wellington police department was discussed Monday by village council.
“The police department is the face of a community and we have people in and out of our station all day long,” said chief Tim Barfield. “We’re jammed into a postage stamp right now.”
The small space is connected to village hall and was part of a small addition to the building, which was raised in 1885. It measures approximately 1,067 square feet and has not grown along with the number of officers who work there, Barfield said.
He provided a blueprint dated 1970 showing plans to turn a now-demolished garage behind village hall into a new station. According to memos, the issue came up again in 2000 and 2015.
“I have two supervisors who literally work in a closet,” he said. “When we want to have staff meetings, we can’t even fit everyone in a single room to have the discussion.”
Barfield said his department could also run into legal issues regarding wheelchair access.
“Wheelchairs can get into our building but they can’t get very far,” he said. “They have no access to the restrooms. Even if they did, there are no accommodations in restrooms for a person in a wheelchair.”
He invited the Enterprise to the station after Monday’s council meeting. Twice, this reporter inadvertently knocked an object off a desk while trying to squeeze through areas overrun with boxes and equipment.
Lockers have been placed in the dispatcher and interview rooms in the absence of an actual locker room.
A small refrigerator located next to the area where officers make coffee and eat has at times been used to store urine samples.
Any dishwashing must be done in the restroom.
Talks between officers in the lobby and central room often have to be whispered due to sound traveling outside the station.
“This is an important issue for the entire village, not just the police,” said Barfield. “Council has been outstanding and very fair to me since I got here. I know money is always a concern and I don’t think we should benefit at the expense of any other village department. But we have to get this done.”
“We’ve made the police fit the department. Now we have to make the department fit the police,” said mayor Hans Schneider.
The Poggemeyer Design Group has recommended the former Elyria Savings and Trust building on East Herrick Avenue as the best option for a new police home.
Barfield said preliminary estimates for renovation fall between $1 million and $1.5 million.
“It always takes another year to get something like this going,” he said. “If we wait a year, it really means two years. We’re just running out of time.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Chief Tim Barfield looks over built-up clutter and equipment in his office after a village council meeting Monday. He described the his department’s current home as “a postage stamp.”