Note from Ivan on the Cop Shop II

[This letter was sent by Police Advisory Committee Member Ivan Krpan to City Hall. Reprinted with permission.]

October 27, 2008

To: Mayor Kris Povlsen and the members of the DeKalb City Council.

My concern is plenty with regards to the construction of the new police station. As a member of the Police Advisory Committee on the police station, I am afraid things may be getting out of hand.

It is also important to remember that as a committee, we were advised that several matters were not our concern with regards to the station.

1. Location. We were instructed that the Lincoln Hwy. site was set in rock.
2. Architect. That the architect was chosen.
3. Construction of the station. Set by staff to be Construction Manager for the City of DeKalb.

I have thought long and hard about this since I made my recommendation and still feel that Chief Feithen, the police officers for DeKalb, and in fact this community need this new station and desperately. The problems that I have is that after thinking about certain matters and seeing how this economy has become a center point of discussion not just locally but on a global level, I believe we need to become a little more focused ourselves.

I have come to believe that there can be better sites found but not in the time frame that would be conducive to starting this station. I do however feel that the City of DeKalb should immediately replace the funds spent on this property with finding and putting up for sale property that the city currently holds. When the police move into their new station, the city will have an overabundance of office space. Consolidation of those spaces and immediate liquidation is essential. We also have to make sure that no additional staff is budgeted for in the upcoming years and current staff will have to have their current roles and effectiveness for our city evaluated.

I believe we may have gone about the architect in a wrong manner. We should have set a price for the project and said that this is all we have at this time. We need to put out the needs and demands that our police department requires now and into the future in the way of needs and growth and allow one or more design firms present a station to us within our perimeters. I am just having a bad feeling allowing one architectural firm telling us that this is the way it has to be. I would like to see the competition for the work on this station is at its highest level, from beginning to end.

Construction of the station should not be in the way of a Construction Manager. The problem that I have with this especially with times the way they are currently is that in essence, we are telling the Construction Manager (CM) that we want the building to come in for an agreed upon price and that’s exactly what he will do barring any change orders. I believe that the taxpayer can get a better deal and more for their dollar if this project was to go the way of a bid from a General Contractor. Sharpened pencils and the ability to have more locals involved in the project is also a benefit from this. This community does have at least four General Contractors (GC) who are very able to bring in this project, contrary to what staff may be saying. These GC’s, in fact, use many local subcontractors and suppliers and could easily make a substantial difference in the end cost of this project.

Another concern that I have had in the past few weeks is trying to come to realization of 56,000 square feet of space. The closest I could come to is the new Schnuck’s grocery store which is said to be around 53,000 square feet, 3,000 square feet short of the proposed station. I’ve taken personal time to walk the building from corner to corner and this was just in the public accessible area. I would like to go on record saying that this is a lot of space in fact huge. This really has me concerned with the choice of the architect and his suggestions for the space truly required for the station. I ask each of you to walk Schnuck’s and get a feel of 53,000 square feet.

I do fully believe that the square footage can be cut down and if truly designed by an architectural firm that fully utilizes the entire square footage of building to its maximum, our police department would have what they need and desire and the taxpayers would have less to pay for this project.

As I had told the council when the committee made its recommendation, it is shameful that in the past 8 years that no council had set up a budget line for the construction of this station. Now, in the eleventh hour, we are looking how to finance this station when it’s been known for 8 plus years that this was going to eventually happen. However this station is funded, safeguards need to be installed that funds for the purpose of this station are to be used for this station and this station only. I’m not excited to see monies put into the general fund while hoping to see that staff directs those dollars in the correct direction.

I would also like the Police Advisory Committee to be able to review the drawings once the initial concept is drawn before they go to final drawing. It is very important that our police department receives the tools they need to perform their duties in this community and this station is one of the biggest tools they are in need of but we at the same time need to do everything possible to bring this project in for a price that this community can afford.

Thank you,
Ivan H. Krpan

Questions: Were the pre-set conditions put upon the Police Advisory Committee the right thing to do? Why or why not?