Turlock police, fire to wait a bit longer to move into new digs

mrowland@modbee.comJuly 16, 2013 

    alternate textMarijke Rowland
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— The opening of the new Turlock Public Safety Facility has been delayed a month, but when it does make its debut, expect elbow room to spare.

The two-story, 57,000-square-foot building that will house the city's Police Department and fire administration had its move-in date pushed back from early August to early September as work continues inside and out on the $30 million project.

The decision to postpone the opening came Tuesday, three weeks before a planned Aug. 5 move-in. Officials had hoped for a June opening.

Furniture on the first floor started to arrive last week, but some construction work remains on the second floor. Turlock police Capt. Jeff Lopes, who is overseeing the project for the department, said despite the delays, he is pleased with progress.

"It's good," he said. "I know we were originally hoping to get the keys in May and move in in June. But we're really only a couple months behind for a project that started with a special-needs assessment in 2007. So we're good."

While the timeline has grown, so has the budget. Michael Pitcock, acity engineer and director of development services, told the Turlock City Council in January that the building was $1.5 million over the $28.3 million budget approved in 2012. The facility was one of the last expenditures the city's redevelopment agency funded before the state discontinued the agencies.

The completed structure at Broadway and Olive will be headquarters to 124 Police Department employees — including officers, administration, dispatchers and more — and four Fire Department administrators. The new center is more than 2½ times larger than the current 21,000- square-foot headquarters on North Palm Street.

Once open, Lopes said, more than 30 percent of the new facility will sit empty. The space, including 10 offices and 24 workstations, is designed for growth. An additional 6,500 square feet at the front of the building is reserved for possible development and expansion.

"We tried to plan for growth in all areas," Lopes said. "We designed this building with a 30-year plan in mind."

Still, the facility's dimensions and amenities are impressive for a police department with 77 sworn officers. By comparison, the new Modesto Police Department headquarters, which opened in 2000, is 40,000 square feet and serves a force with more than double the number of officers who serve almost three times the population. Modesto police also use the department's old 10,500- square-foot headquarters on 11th Street.

The new Turlock facility includes a 180-foot-high radio tower for dispatch and emergency services on its 4.6-acre lot. Almost every element of the headquarters has been expanded and upgraded from dispatch to records, staff gym to parking lots.

Room to grow

The excess space is evident across the departments. Room for 23 workspaces in the detectives unit will be configured with only 13 desks to start. There are eight detectives on staff.

The officer locker rooms are similarly spacious. There are 71 women's lockers and 145 men's lockers. Each upgraded locker comes equipped with a large bottom drawer, interior ventilation and a power source to plug in electronics.

"We've got plenty of extra room," Lopes said. "I wouldn't be surprised if in 30 years we're still not grown into this space."

New features for the department include a large vehicle bay to house cars involved in investigations, a sally port to control entrance into the holding cells and a dedicated Emergency Operations Center in case of disasters. One of the more prominent architectural features is a large training room with bay windows that face Broadway.

Something old, something new

The furniture will be a 50-50 mix of new pieces and recycled items currently in use at the old center. The city has a $412,500 budget to furnish the new facility.

Some construction and flooring need to be installed on the second floor, which houses the police and fire chief offices as well as other administrative space. Outside touch-ups are being completed on the exteriors, and landscaping should start next week.

Lopes said the departments now plan to move in over the first two weekends in September. Once staff is moved in, the city will hold a dedication ceremony and open house for the public. Those dates have not been determined.

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or(209) 578-2284. Follow her on www.twitter.com/turlocknow.

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