Huntersville commissioner Ken Lucas urges residents to offer their input on the need for a new police station, which he says has been ignored "for far too many years."
"I cannot think of a more critical need in Huntersville, nor can I think of a better use of Huntersville tax dollars than providing an appropriate facility for our men and women of the police department charged with serving and protecting," Lucas said in a recent Facebook message.
Building an updated police station could mean raising taxes by about 4 or 5 cents per $100 assessed valuation, but the need is great, Lucas said.
"The existing facility simply fails to provide the needed security features and functionality for police operations," he said. "This is truly pathetic for a town that was just recognized in 2009 as the No. 2 place to relocate by Forbes Magazine."
When the Huntersville Police Department occupied its present 8,120 square feet "of what is aptly labeled as nothing more than retrofitted office spaces," Lucas said, the force stood at 15; that number is now at 93 officers and staff.
Lucas quoted architects who studied the police department's space needs as saying, "It is a most striking circumstance that this highly professional police agency is found to be working under conditions of extreme duress in a facility that meets none of the requirements for a contemporary police facility."
"That is a direct quote," Lucas said. "How shocking, and as an elected official, how embarrassing.
"The sheer lack of space not only inhibits growing our police force to match the population, but also jeopardizes the safety of our police officers and staff by having to place detained personnel in the hallways and corridors," he said.
The hallways are cluttered and obstructed by files and other items because there's no room elsewhere for them, he said. He also noted several examples of someone at a working space having to move to allow another person to pass by. And detectives lack proper interview space, he said.
"I can go on and on with examples that you would just shake your head at," Lucas said.
The Huntersville Board of Commissioners has spent at least a year receiving information, comparing prices and paring down options for a new station, Lucas said. The board is nearing a decision on whether to move ahead, he said, which is why he's encouraging residents to contact commissioners with their thoughts.