Lake Norman & Mooresville

Magla Mill likely site for police HQ

The Huntersville Town Board is narrowing its search for a site for the town's Police Department, although some believe the move might be premature.

The board voted 3-2 Monday night to focus on the old Magla Mill site, at 404 N. Church St. That facility could be as large as 40,000 square feet, or five times larger than the current facility.

The site was one of seven initially considered by the board, but it will be the only one that will be investigated by the architectural firm Narmour Wright Creech. Commissioners could have decided to investigate all seven, but voted to choose the Magla Mill site to expedite the process.

“The mill site is centrally located in town, and there is good access to roads,” commissioner Brian Sisson said.

Sisson, Ken Lucas and Charles Jeter voted to approve the site as the primary focus.

Representatives from Narmour Wright Creech are expected to present their findings at the next town board meeting Sept. 2.

The other six sites considered included residential and commercial buildings near the intersection with town hall.

But the mill site was already owned by the town, and Jeter said that was a factor in voting to go with it.

“My sense is that unless there is some unknown secret or obstacle over there, then that is probably where the Police Department will go,” Jeter said. “I think that makes a lot of sense for a lot of people.”

Town manager Greg Ferguson cautioned the board before the vote, saying the infrastructure cost for the mill site could be higher than others. Commissioner Ron Julian said other sites should have been given more consideration.

“If you don't study all seven sites, you aren't making a good business decision,” he said. “What if one of the other sites comes in $3 million less than the mill site? I'm not saying that's the wrong site, but you need to look at all of them.”

But Jeter said the site made the most sense because it also did not have an existing structure on it.

“You have those at every other site,” he said. “I have to believe that cleaning up those would be done at a significantly higher cost than an open field. I understand Mr. Ferguson wants the board to move cautiously, but I just don't see a doomsday scenario.”

The facility is expected to cost at least $10 million, and nothing would be completed until 2011 at the earliest.