Police station construction now set to start in May

Groundbreaking was originally slated for April but was pushed back because of delays.

By: Matthew Kirdahy
   The township is eyeing a May groundbreaking for the proposed police station. That is if all goes according to plan.
   The township expected to break ground in April on the project, but because Kurt Schmitt of Mylan Architecture was delayed, the projected date was extended three weeks, said Mark Berkowsky, of Berkowsky and Associates Monday.
   The Township Committee will discuss the police station again March 1.
   Mr. Berkowsky said he doesn’t foresee any other delays in the design process.
   "Mylan is proceeding with the revisions to the design and is currently 40 percent complete with the preparation of the construction documents," Mr. Berkowsky said. "Their progress has been slow and has fallen behind by three weeks."
   He said Mr. Schmitt had to address other Mylan assignments unrelated to police station project. Mr. Berkowsky said that because of the delay, the projected April groundbreaking date is unattainable. The earliest the township can start construction on the station is May. Mr. Berkowsky said the project would last until May 2005.
   Mr. Berkowsky is one of the chief architects on the project. Mr. Schmitt designed the building. The township hired Mr. Berkowsky’s firm in September for $87,000 to find cost effective ways to build the station.
   The 16,000-square-foot police station will be built on a 1.6-acre parcel on Station Road adjacent to the 153-year-old Holland House.
   In July, the Planning Board approved a Home Depot warehouse application that included a provision donating a small tract of land that would increase the buffer zone between the warehouse and the station.
   Home Depot is building a 759,436-square-foot distribution center on the 88.9-acre parcel. Mr. Berkowsky said he was concerned the property from the Home Depot construction might not be available by May.
   Home Depot is using the donated land as an area to keep construction materials during the project. Township Attorney Trishka Waterbury said she would ask the company to move its vehicles and supplies so the station project could proceed.
   In November, the committee approved a $2.8 million budget for the police station. That cost does not include things such as driveway and sidewalk construction, unforeseen site conditions, telephone/data, architectural-engineering and construction-management fees or furniture.
   Mr. Schmitt had said the furniture would cost approximately $110,000. Township officials have said the final tab would reach $3 million.
   In order to pay for the station, the township must get approval to borrow above its $29 million debt limit from the Department of Community Affairs Local Finance Board. Township Administrator Fred Carr said the township would request the waiver in April. If the waiver is granted, the police station project will go out to bid.
   The township reached its debt limit after bonding for $9.55 million to buy the development rights of the 130-acre Simonson farm on Cranbury Neck Road, and the 88-acre E. Barclay farm on Ancil Davidson Road outright and for the condemnation of the 53-acre Fischer property on South Main Street.
   This year, the township is scheduled to receive $2.6 million for the development rights of the 190 Barclay farms in western Cranbury and $195,000 in debt from new recreational equipment thanks to a parks grant from the county the township received in September, which would bring it below the debt ceiling.
   The new police station is expected to have a public waiting area with two bathrooms, a police training room, women’s and men’s locker rooms, a crime lab, temporary holding facilities, a computer and communications room, a conference room, an armory, several storage closets and a break room.
   The new station also could have between six and eight public parking spaces, 13 spaces for police personnel vehicles and a covered carport for police cruisers that will protect them from snow.