Sykesville police get a new station house Building delivered on Christmas Eve SOUTHEAST--Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

January 05, 1993|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

Santa Claus was very good to the Sykesville Police Department two weeks ago, delivering a new station right on time -- Christmas Eve.

Police Chief Wallace Mitchell, Administrative Assistant Debbie Onheiser and four police officers spent last week moving into their new quarters behind the Town House.

"We have a couple of little things to do yet, but everything else is done," Chief Mitchell said. "Everything pretty much went on schedule and went smooth."

Town Manager James L. Schumacher called the new facility "a real nice Christmas present -- it was technically done Christmas Eve."

The renovated maintenance shed was hardly a surprise, though. Last spring the town hired William W. Keeney Architects Inc. of Reisterstown to draw up a design for the 30-foot by 50-foot building, plus a 16-foot addition.

Over the summer, bids were taken for the work. In September, the major bid was awarded to Roy C. Kline Contractors Inc. of Smithsburg, Washington County, for $99,515 for everything except plumbing.

A plumbing contract was later awarded to F. E. Harrison and Sons Inc. of Union Bridge for $9,140, bringing the cost of the new station close to the previously estimated $110,000.

To pay for the police station, the Town Council also approved a $135,000 bank loan, which was later cut back by $5,000.

Yesterday, Chief Mitchell was still moving things over from the tiny room the department used to share with the town's administration offices. Workmen arrived mid-morning to put on some finishing touches.

Mrs. Onheiser, even with a bad cold, was obviously excited about her new work area.

"How do you like my uniform?" she asked, showing off a crisp white blouse and navy blue skirt. "I have to wear a uniform now; it looks more professional. All I need is a patch, but I don't want people to think I'm a police officer, but they make patches that say dispatcher."

Her new computer color monitor flashes "Sykesville Police Department," but still needs some new programming to improve its capabilities, she said. And while waiting for an upgraded radio unit, she's using portable monitors.

"There was an allowance for new equipment, replacing and updating equipment," Chief Mitchell said.

The new station is a big step up from the cramped Town House room where the only holding cell was a hard plastic chair and a pair of handcuffs attached to the fireplace.

The new station sports the Sykesville Police Department logo everywhere: on the front of the building, on the clocks, in picture frames on the wall.

Visitors enter the new station into a secured front lobby area. Mrs. Onheiser's office area/radio room is to the right, and Chief Mitchell's spacious office is behind that.

Down the hall are two more offices, a squad room, a real holding cell, a photographing and fingerprinting area, an extra holding room, rear entrance, bathroom with shower and locker room area.

Behind the station is a freshly paved parking area from which officers can enter through rear doors with prisoners. Handicapped access parking is available.

"The back slope had to be built up almost 14 inches to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act for the handicapped ramp," Mr. Schumacher said. "That cost us about $5,000 extra because all we were going to do was put in an inch and a half of overlay."

The new facility, a first for the 89-year-old department, has been a real morale-booster, even in its first week, the police chief said.

"The officers are very pleased and glad we finally have it," he said.

"They've been smiling a lot," Mrs. Onheiser added, also smiling.

Chief Mitchell said several townspeople have stopped in for a look at their new police station and given their stamp of approval.

"Everybody said we really needed it," the chief said. "For what we got and what it cost, we did very well. It's something the town can be proud of."

With the extra space, the police can better organize equipment and accomplish even more than before, he added.

The police station will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. weekdays for routine needs, he said.

It was a very good year for the Sykesville police in other ways as well. In September, a new 1992 Crown Victoria patrol car arrived after having been put on hold for a year.

In June, Chief Mitchell saw his nine-member auxiliary police force start working on special events around the town. The group also started a youth program and has offered several activities to young people.

The auxiliary will have its meetings in the squad room starting next week and will do training and other activities there, Mrs. Onheiser said.

The chief said an open house will be held later when the new station is completely organized and cleaned up.

Across the parking lot in the Town House, Mr. Schumacher is preparing to use the extra room for Town Council and other meetings once all the police stuff is gone.

"Four years ago we did a Facilities Master Plan report for future space needs, and one of the things we came up with was we needed more council space for people who come to the meetings," Mr. Schumacher said.

Committees and other groups that meet at the Town House also will be able to use the extra space, he said.

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