GATE CITY — The Gate City Police Department will operate out of Town Hall on a temporary basis following action taken earlier this week by the Town Council.
Authority was also given to Gate City Town Manager Jeremy Keller to seek bids for the renovation of the town’s current police station.
The action was needed, town officials said, to address water damage and associated health concerns that impact the building and those who work in it.
Because the town owns the station, Keller said the council members believed it would be best to pursue options that would keep the facility in use.
“Instead of paying rent, buying a building or building a new one, that building is already paid for,” Keller said. “So it would probably be in our best interest to remodel that building over there. I think either way we look at it, it’s probably going to beat paying rent or buying another building.
“There’s no quick or easy solution. ... I think it’s better to invest in what we already have and what they’re used to instead of buying something else and having to demolish the old building or do something with it.”
Keller said he would like to gather enough information over the next month to allow the council to make an informed decision on the matter when it reconvenes in September.
“What we’re hoping for is to get them out of there and have enough options and numbers for the council to make a firm decision at their September 11th meeting so they can come in the next day and actually start that process of getting it remodeled,” Keller said. “Hopefully by Thanksgiving we can have them in there.”
The council had been considering three options for the station. Besides the one that was chosen, the council had contemplated renting space on West Jackson Street in downtown Gate City or permanently housing the department at Town Hall.
Officials began looking at the options after several leaks and large amounts of mold were found in the building following the area’s wettest July on record.
The council’s first vote on addressing the matter was taken at a special called meeting July 27.
Initial estimates of the project from Egan Construction showed the renovation could cost as much as $139,000, although town officials said the actual bid amount could come in lower than that.
Keller said the cost of building a new station for the department was estimated at over $300,000.
Now that a decision on the way forward has been made, Gate City Police Chief Kim Birchfield said he and his officers could begin the move within the next week or two.
“There’s no doubt about it, the issues have to be addressed,” Birchfield said. “The building is in terrible shape and needs to be fixed up to allow us to even be in there working. The council thought this would be the best option for the time being, so we’re just hoping it’s going to be a very short, limited amount of time.”
Birchfield said the move could present challenges regarding storage and the confidentiality of investigation files and documents.