Jul. 29—SELLERSBURG — Within weeks, the Town of Sellersburg is expected to close on a property at 8757 Old Indiana 60 that will serve as the new police headquarters.
The Sellersburg Town Council voted earlier this month to move forward with the $1.1 million purchase of a 9,100-square-foot former office building, and another roughly $500,000 will be used for upgrades and renovations inside to outfit it for the department.
Police Chief Russ Whelan said the move is a welcome change, as the station on South New Albany Street has been for some time in need of repairs because of mold caused by regular flooding in the basement, electrical and plumbing issues.
"We are extremely, extremely excited," he said.
The chief said he, the council and Town Manager Charlie White have been in talks for a while on how to address the need for new space, adding that he knew the department at was at the point "where we either have to do a major renovation or find another alternative."
There were discussions of building a combined 30,000-square-foot town hall and police department, which council member Brad Amos said could have cost between $4.5 and $5 million. Building a new police station from scratch would be at least $3 million.
The former office building coming onto the market provided the perfect solution. Whelan said he and other police administrators toured the space to see if it would fit.
"I said 'tell me why this won't work; let's look at the negative side,'" Whelan said, adding that even after touring the site for more than an hour, "we couldn't find a reason." Whelan took his police crews up there shift by shift.
"At the end of it, they were like 'Chief, you need to see if you can make this happen,'" he said adding that "with some modifications, yes, it would work and it would be very, very nice."
Whelan got to work on paper writing out what he thought would need to happen for it to house the department, talking with architectural engineer TEG to see what could work. Currently, he has walls, doors and floors marked with tape to show things such as where a wall would be removed to create more space, where an evidence room would be.
Among the new things they'll have are evidence pass-through lockers, an artillery armory for weapons that are collected as evidence, a large training area, a staff break room and records room.
And just more space that works well. Currently, the department has about 6,000 feet of usable space in the three-floor building it's been in for the past 18 years, most of that on the middle floor. Records are stored in rubber bins in the basement, and quarters are cramped.
The new space will provide ample room on a single floor, with departments each in their own area, and have space to grow the force.
"This building is in great shape; it is a very well-built building," council member Amos said. "It's going to be great for our community and our police department."
But, he wants to make sure residents don't think the move, about a mile and-a-half from the traditional downtown spot, will affect safety or policing.
"Our police are still going to be on the road every day," he said. ""They're going to continue to drive the streets and protect our citizens."
Both he and Whelan said they appreciate the relationship the department, town manager and current council have to get necessary projects like this to happen.
For now, Whelan is waiting for the property closing so he can begin to seek bids for the work that needs to happen inside.
"It's been exciting, stressful, but we know there's a very big reward at the end of this journey," he said. "[And] as we keep growing, that building has room for future expansion and everything else."