After a two-year search, the discussion surrounding a proposed $6.5 million police headquarters in Purcellville continued at a recent Purcellville Town Council meeting. The town has narrowed the site options down to three.
Josh Bennett with Moseley Architects presented the three options on Aug. 11: 36803 Allder School Road near Woodgrove High School; 36716 W. Main Street across from Loudoun Golf and Country Club; and on Hirst Road across the street from Purcellville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.
In the meantime, the town is also considering several sites for a temporary location while the permanent police station is under construction, which is estimated at 19 months.
Town Manager David Mekarski said there are four temporary spaces under consideration — the Pickwick Building, Pullen House, former Dragon Hops brewery and to expand space at the current location in the Lowers Risk Group building.
Of the four options, the Dragon Hops brewery space was deemed to be the most favorable based on several factors including access, visibility and cost, with the Pickwick building and Lowers buildings a close second and third.
Police Chief Cynthia McAlister has outlined why she believes it is important for the police station to move from its current location. A few of the reasons include unsecured parking at the current space, a lack of stand-off distance from the building, clear sightlines into the building, a small lobby, no public restrooms, an interrogation room without recording capabilities and a shortage of workspace for the police officers, she said.
Bennett’s team assessed the space needs for a new building at 12,000 square feet for the department’s 32 staff members. They have also created a floor plan outlining how the department should function and serve the needs of the town.
Councilman Stanley Milan asked whether the cost in the presentation included land for the new construction. Mekarski said it did not, and he said a rough estimate for purchasing commercial land is $100,000 per acre, with a recommended need of five acres for this project.
Councilman Tip Stinnette asked about the timeline for planning the project and said a three-year timeline may be too aggressive.
“If we use a three-year time horizon, we are already behind the curve, because we have to acquire the land, and chances are a three-year time horizon is probably best characterized as overly aggressive. Five years means we have to start our critical path now. Seven years allows us to think about this and breathe before we start a critical path,” Stinnette said.
Mekarski agreed that three years is fairly aggressive. Town Council also plans to include community participation in the collaborative process of planning the new police station.
However, Mekarski emphasized the fact interest rates are at a 60-year low, and he suggested the town should consider a way to finance the project now while the rates remain low.
“The time to borrow money is not three, five or seven years from now. It really is now,” he said.
Based on current projections, the town could finance the $6.5 million project with an annual payment around $400,000 over nearly 20 years.
The next steps are to invite the town’s financial consultant, Davenport, to present financing options and for Town Council to discuss how it would like to proceed.