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Downers Grove Village Council comes to consensus on facility renovation plan

A layout of a renovation plan for the Downers Grove Police Station shows where an addition would be built.
A layout of a renovation plan for the Downers Grove Police Station shows where an addition would be built.

DOWNERS GROVE – A majority of the Downers Grove Village Council supports a facilities overhaul plan that will largely address the needs of the police station while delaying long-term solutions for the village hall.

Village staff presented two more facility plans at the April 19 council meeting, after presenting three plans with cost estimates during the March 1 meeting.

"What we heard quite literally from the council last month is the options should address the needs of the police station and should remain entirely within the $16 million total project budget," Deputy Village Manager Michael Baker said.

A majority of the council liked "Option 4," which would include an addition and interior renovations to the police station and short-term maintenance to the village hall. The plan is estimated to cost $15.1 million.

A 13,200-square-foot addition would be built to the south of the police station and address most of the department's stated operational deficiencies, including more private interview areas, larger lockers, and more space for investigations and evidence storage.

Most of the commissioners said that they are willing to allow the village to further explore this plan, as long as the police department is happy with it.

"From the beginning of this, I've said that taking care of the police station is my top priority, and 'Option 4' gets that done," Commissioner Greg Hose said.

Mayor Martin Tully said the plan does nothing to solve the village hall problems, but he believes it is best to treat the police station and village hall as separate projects so they can make progress on some of the renovations.

"We've got to get this done," he said. "Costs don't go down. The longer we sit around and twiddle our thumbs, the more expensive it's going to get."

Commissioner Bob Barnett was the lone commissioner against the plan, saying it's a short-sighted solution in reaction to a misinterpreted public referendum.

During the April 2015 election, the public voted against a $46 million renovation project for the police station and village hall.

Barnett said that vote meant that the public did not support that plan and that the village should still look at better long-term solutions for the police department.

He said nearby municipalities such as Clarendon Hills and Naperville have chosen to build new police stations outside of the downtown area because downtown property has a high potential for monetary return if a private developer builds on it.

By building the addition, the police station is further cemented to its downtown location, he said.

"I think we can do better if we are willing to free ourselves up from that constraint of, 'Put it on that site and make it simple as possible,'" he said.

Tully said a large portion of the community believes the police station and village hall should be centrally located.

He added that because of the age of the village hall, the village may still decide that it's best to move the village hall to a new building, which could free up that land for development.

"We still have options to be creative with village hall," he said.

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