News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 21, 2012

Bond to pay for new police station

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — City officials know how to pay for a proposed, new police headquarters, but they appear less sure whether the fire department should share the building.

On Tuesday, the Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission voted to use money from future bond sales to pay for the approximately $4.5 million police station, which is expected to be at the corner of 12th Street and Wabash Avenue. Money to cover the bond payments – amounting to $5.5 million in all – will come from property taxes raised in the city’s downtown tax increment finance (TIF) district, officials said.

However, even as he voted in favor of the bond resolution, Brian Conley, a member of the Redevelopment Commission, made it clear he believes the city should consider making the proposed building a “public safety” facility to house both police and fire officials.

“To me, this is a wonderful opportunity” to provide office space for both departments, he said during the commission meeting Tuesday afternoon in City Hall. “I think we’re going to miss that boat going down the river.”

Cliff Lambert, executive director of the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment, said he does not disagree with Conley, but said the only role for the commissioners is to provide financing for the project, which they did by approving the bond resolution without opposition.

Conley is not alone in his view. Earlier this month, Terre Haute City Councilman Norm Loudermilk, a member of the fire department, also spoke in favor of providing space in the proposed new building for fire department administrators.

Toward the end of its 20-year sanitary sewer overhaul, the city plans to build a large underground storage tank where the current fire administration building now sits on North First Street. Loudermilk said moving fire administrators to the proposed new building at 12th and Wabash could save the expense of building a new fire facility to replace that administrative building when that time comes.

“It just seems logical,” Loudermilk said at a City Council meeting Nov. 8.

Mayor Duke Bennett, reached after Tuesday’s Redevelopment Commission meeting, said the city is still weighing its options. “The building has not been designed yet,” Bennett said. “Our goal is to make that new facility as functional as possible.”

Bennett also said the same property at 12th and Wabash, which the city purchased from Old National Bank last year for $100,000, is large enough to potentially house a future fire station and fire headquarters.

“This [block] is also the potential location of a future fire house downtown, several years down the road,” Bennett said.

The city-owned property at 12th and Wabash is about 23⁄4 acres, Lambert said.

Meanwhile, the city has hired a consultant to do a “space analysis” for the proposed police station building, Bennett said. It would be a single story structure with a full basement and would measure about 30,000 square feet in total, he said. That’s larger than the current police headquarters. However, additional space would be used to store evidence, Bennett said.

The five-person Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission oversees the activities of the Redevelopment Department, including management of TIF dollars. Three members of the commission are appointed by the mayor, two by the City Council.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes