Lake Norman & Mooresville

In search of space for police

The town of Huntersville is evaluating sites for a new Police Department complex and could eventually move the department into a building five times bigger than the current one.

The Huntersville town board is looking at sites for a potential 40,000-square-foot complex, which would dwarf the current 8,000- square-foot facility. Nothing would be completed until 2011 at the earliest.

Greg Ferguson, the town manager, said he expects the town board to evaluate between six and 10 sites for the new Police Department. He said the old Magla Mill site, which already is owned by the town, will be considered, as will other town property on Verhoeff Drive.

Huntersville already has set aside $10 million for the new facility as part of its capital project budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year. A firm estimate of the cost won't be known until a site has been chosen.

The new facility would house up to 253 employees, though the town only has 91 police employees now. The architectural firm Narmour Wright Creech recommended planning for the larger number based on a needs analysis for the next 20 years. By that time, Huntersville's projected growth would mean the town would have more than 90,000 residents, up from the current 40,000, so it would require more police employees. The town could scale down the size of the facility, Ferguson said, but officials are hoping to stick with the larger building.

“We would encourage the town board to look at the 20-year plan,” he said. “We would hope that they would build something that big or something that can expand to that size.”

Huntersville built its current facility in 1997, but the town's growth has already made that building obsolete.

“We are in desperate need of another building,” Huntersville Police Chief Phil Potter said. “We have already run out of room for office space, and everything is very tight. We don't want this to happen again 10 years from now.”

Town board member Ken Lucas said the new police facility is a long time coming.

“It was really an urgent need five years ago,” he said. “It is way overdue. I am almost ashamed that it has gone this long.”