SELLERSBURG — The Sellersburg Police Department is one step closer to moving into a much-needed new space that is expected to give officers a better workspace for serving the community.
Requests For Proposal will be going out this weekend for a contractor to lead the renovations to the 9,100-square-foot former office building on Old Indiana 60 that Chief Russ Whelan said he hopes to be able to move his team into by the first part of next year.
Bids will be opened Nov. 8, “and then hopefully within a couple weeks we’ll select a contractor,” Whelan said.
The town council voted in the summer to OK the $1.1 million purchase agreement for the new building, which is about a mile and a half from the headquarters now on South New Albany Street in the downtown area.
That will give the town up to around $700,000 left of their total $1.8 million loan to complete renovations, which Whelan has been working on closely with TEG Architects over the past several months. He said right now things are still on track to be into the building in February.
“They’re all anxious and they’re all excited,” Whelan said of his department members. “Most of them have told me many times it’s going to be great to have a building we’re proud of. I like to hear that because my job...it’s not about me, it’s about the guys.”
The chief said he’s been lobbying different iterations of the town council for years on getting an improved space for the department. The space they’ve been in for 18 years has gotten worse in recent years, as flooding and leaks have threatened equipment and led to mold that has made part of the building unusable.
Nearly every office leaks from rain, and the carpeted hallways are specked with bits of fallen plaster. Multiple times, Whelan has had to employ flood restoration services to clean the basement when it floods.
Whelan said he appreciates the support from the council and Town Manager Charlie Smith in the need for the new space and other things the department needs to provide better service.
“The council has always been nice to me when I’ve said ‘let’s give them raises, I need some new officers’” Whelan said, adding that he, the council and town manager have been in talks for a while on how to fix the situation with the building.
And there have been other ideas in the mix, but a proposed combined town hall and police headquarters was estimated at more than $4.5 million and to build a new police building at least $3 million.
Since getting the green light, Whelan has worked at getting all the details right on everything the department needs in the new space. He’s gone over individual plans and ideas two and three times to make sure he’s not missing anything, meets with the architects on a regular basis and continues to lead the department in its location now.
“It’s been fun but it’s stressful,” he said. “I’ve lost a lot of sleep over the past few months but it will all definitely be worth it once we’re moved in.”