As best as he can determine, Great Bend Police Chief Cliff Couch believes the aging white building his department calls home dates back nearly 80 years.
“She’s showing her age,” Couch said, addressing the City Council during its budget work session Tuesday night. “It needs more than a coat of paint.”
But, the problems run deeper than cosmetic concerns. During the council’s recent tour of city facilities and goal-setting session, it was noted that the lack of space is growing problem.
Apparently, the edifice was built in 1938 as part of the City Auditorium. At the time, the front portion that houses the Police Department also held the City Office and Fire Department.
“There have been many years and many uses,” Couch said. Over the decades, dispatchers have worked there and, in the 1980s, the Municipal Court wing was added.
“This didn’t catch us by surprise,” Couch said, adding there have been some improvements such as replacing some of the carpet and improving security. However, time is taking its toll.
There is a reoccurring sewer smell that has befuddled plumbers and other plumbing issues, problems with the heating an air conditioning and outdated electrical systems. “It’s just general age,” the chief said.
Compounding this is the space itself. Years of remodeling have created a patchwork layout with wasted and unusable spaces.
So what needs to be done? Couch came up with three options: Build a new headquarters, relocate the department to a new, existing location, or extensively remodel the existing office.
Just about every chief would love a new police station, he said, but this is expensive. As an example, he cited the Fire Station No. 2 on West 10th which cost over $1 million.
As for moving, there are few options. The back office portion of the Great Bend Events Center was discussed.
However, the department would only need a portion of the area, leaving the rest hard to find a tenant for. Plus, with competing uses, parking would be at a premium.
After weighing all the options, Couch recommended remodeling the current facility.
Council members suggested moving he court to a different site, expanding over the existing garage and/or out in front, and closing the alley between the PD and the current City Office.
“You have to look at the outside walls,” Councilman Wayne Henneke said. The building probably has enough raw square footage to work, it just needs to be redone.
It was the consensus of the council to proceed with studying what it would take to make the office meet current and future needs.