An LTE sent to the Chronicle last week made it in today:
To the editor:
During the municipal election campaign I remarked publicly that DeKalb’s Police Facility Advisory Committee (FAC) was not allowed to consider any police station options other than a brand-new station built on the Lincoln Highway commercial site that had already been purchased. Then-alderman and FAC member Donna Gorski took issue with my statement in a letter to the editor.
In her March 30 missive, Ms. Gorski wrote, “Background materials on previous plans and discussions over the past 10 years were analyzed.” While it is true that the history was reviewed, it was misleading to suggest the FAC considered and rejected the earlier ideas. I repeat: They were not allowed to do so. In fact, the wording I used, “Their hands were tied,” was borrowed from a FAC member who also noted that even the architect had been preselected. I discussed FAC meeting outcomes several times with Committee members and other attendees and according to these sources, FAC was left to decide only whether a new station on Lincoln Highway should be 35,000 square feet or 55,000 square feet. They were also charged with the mission of figuring out how to pay for it, although those options were limited as well.
In short: I stand by what I said.
I also remain intensely interested in the subject. Police station overcrowding is a serious concern and must be dealt with.
Now I see by your May 8 article, “No new taxes in 2010 city budget,” that financing a new police station is back on the agenda for next week’s Committee of the Whole meeting. I believe this move to be premature due to the circumstances described above, but am also amazed that the city is apparently going against advice it paid $60,000 for. In its report, financial consultants Executive Partners, Inc. (EPI) suggests DeKalb not take on this kind of debt until its financial house is in order, but rather at this time to hire a space planner to evaluate the Municipal Building and Annex as the basis for a plan to provide relief.
Moreover, I submit that DeKalb’s fervent struggle to lay claim to a budget “surplus” and/or “balanced” budget is creating public safety staffing shortages which, in the case of the police department, may end up surpassing in seriousness the shortage of space – that is, if it hasn’t already.
Lynn A. Fazekas