Although it may still be years from a reality, the on-again-off-again effort to replace the current 90-plus-year-old Great Bend Police Station may soon be back on again. During the City Council meeting Monday night, City Administrator Kendal Francis said it is time to revitalize the project.
“This is something that we have talked about since I arrived,” he said. “Our current facility is inadequate and is not (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible in a lot of aspects.”
And, “we’ve had it on our strategic plan to try to start moving forward with a new building,” he said. He’s had some discussions with Mayor Cody Schmidt on how they can proceed with the process.
“I’ve spoken to him about the possibility of putting together a building committee to research a few things,” he said. Do they want a stand-alone building or is there a desire to maybe combine it with a new City Hall, since the current building has some structural issues and is showing its age?
And, there’s the issue of whether to “build new” or try to find an existing facility that can be renovated, he said. If they do build something, where would that location be?
“So, I think it would be good if we were to impanel a committee to help us get this process started,” he said. This could include a combination of staff and citizens who have building trade knowledge.
The city has been setting money aside for a while, he said. As of now, they have $1.4 million, which is about half of what will be needed.
“I think it’s time that we get this project on the forefront,” Francis said. “I do think it would be beneficial to the city, not only to our officers.”
He said it will be a year or two before they are ready to start construction.
The project was first addressed in 2016 when an engineering study was approved by the council. It was championed by then Police Chief Cliff Couch.
Research indicates the edifice was built in 1928 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.