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Clarksville opens new police station

South Boston News
The new home of the Clarksville Police Department / January 23, 2013
After 27 years in what was billed as a “temporary facility,” the Clarksville Police Department has a new home at 814-D Virginia Avenue, adjacent to the Clarksville Public Library in the Clarksville Crossing Shopping Center.

The seven-man, one-woman police department began operations last week in its new building, which “is equipped with the latest in security technology,” according to Interim Town Manager Dr. Charles Lee.

Police Chief Ricky Wilkinson is inviting the public to join the department for the official ribbon-cutting at their new station, at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday.

The department will be open for tours until 6 p.m. following the ribbon cutting ceremony. Officers and staff will also be there to answer questions about the Clarksville Police Department and how it operates.

“This long-needed facility is a symbol of this Council’s commitment to public safety. It is also a measure of our efforts to continually increase the professionalism of this department,” said Lee.

“Hopefully, the opening of this facility signals a new cycle of progress in our community. We are indebted to the Shelton and Jean Short Foundation and to several local organizations for significant contributions of equipment, labor, and expert knowledge. Without this help the project would not have been possible,” said Mayor Kevin Allgood.

Initially Lee estimated the cost of purchasing, moving and modifying the Benchmark building at approximately $56,000. The final cost, however, came in around $85,000 — $55,000 of that covered by grants dedicated to this project. The remaining $30,000 came from residuals from other completed projects in the Town budget, and from savings with the refinancing of Town debt.

The adaptation and reuse of the former Benchmark Bank building stirred some controversy when Lee initially proposed moving the building and using it to house the department. At the time, two members of Council, Carolyn Hite and Glenn Jurczyk, objected, wanting instead to renovate the former YMCA building, described by Hite as a structurally sound “solid brick building with a slate roof that has stood for over 70 years as a hallmark in the community.”

Hite predicted, “When all is said and done, it will cost us more than $56,000.” Council member Jurczyk added, “I’m a believer in preserving and reusing our older buildings. It’s even in our [comprehensive] plan.”

Lee began the search for alternatives to the YMCA building after meeting with two architects with the engineering firm of Dewberry. They estimated the cost of renovating the YMCA at $225,000 to bring it up to code — a figure that both Hite and Jurczyk disputed, calling it exaggerated. They said the estimate followed only a cursory review of the building.

The majority of Council supported the purchase, seeing it as an opportunity to move the police department from its cramped quarters into a facility containing technology used by more up-to-date criminal justice systems.

“We are particularly grateful for the very significant contributions made by Harman Saunders Construction Company, Ligon Excavating, Benchmark Bank, Key Construction, and Ken Cope,” said Lee. “Thanks to their generosity, we are able to have an excellent facility, completely furnished, with an all-weather parking lot, for about 50 dollars per square foot of building space. In addition, the teller windows used by the bank now serve as service windows for Town Hall.”

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