Mayor hopeful new police station opens next year
The razing of the former St. Leo School building at the corner of North Main at Elm streets will move the City of Versailles one step closer to relocating its police station to that site. The city anticipates taking ownership of the property in mid-June, according to Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott. He said the process of selecting an architect and a construction team has begun. Those who expressed interest in the project have been interviewed, he added. "A lot of the burden (on when the project can move forward) is on us," said Traugott, "when we can give the architect a clear vision on what we want and they can get the plans in the works." Once construction begins, the project will take about 12 months "and I would like to start by the end of this year. So I'm hopeful that move-in will be the end of next year," he said. The Versailles Police Station is currently located near the Woodford County Courthouse in downtown Versailles. The building offers very little privacy for those coming into the station to report a crime or talk to an officer, Traugott said. "You want (your police station) to be welcoming to the public," said Versailles Police Chief James Fugate. He said his department currently does not have sufficient onsite parking spaces for its fleet of vehicles, now parked in three different locations. The current police station does not have an in-house evidence room or sufficient storage space for accident and case reports. "We've got some (reports) here at the police department," said Fugate, "but we don't have the room for all of them. So we have some - actually a lot" at an offsite location. "In other words," he added, "we've outgrown" our space for record storage at the current station. "It's very small for a police department as large as ours," said Traugott. The Versailles Police Department employs 40 officers, with 35 of them being full-time, and eight dispatchers, who will have their own restroom and kitchen area in the new police station. "That's definitely another priority," said Fugate, "(because) ... they're sort of tied to the phone and the radio." Other priorities in the new police station are locker and shower rooms, and "hopefully a gym for our employees," he added. Providing detectives with secure interview rooms are also a priority. Besides being able to provide police officers with adequate space to do their jobs and serve the public more efficiently, the police station's move will allow a new downtown business to locate in downtown Versailles and bolster the local economy, Traugott said. "I think somebody will see some value in that property," said Traugott, "because it is a pretty good location." With the input of a building committee co-chaired by Fugate and councilmember Ann Miller, the City of Versailles will have an opportunity to meet the needs of law enforcement and the community in its new police station. For example, Traugott and Fugate would like to have a meeting room that can also be used for civic and other groups in the community. "I think it's (also) a great location operationally in that you're (station is located) at a five-way intersection," said Traugott. "You can go any direction pretty easily." Also, locating an architecturally appealing police station at that site offers a positive image for motorists coming into Versailles, he said. "I'm very pleased to get this (project) off the ground," said Traugott. "It's a real big deal. And it's been much needed for a long time," before he added, "The officers are excited, I can tell you that." Depending on their job responsibilities, Fugate's officers and dispatchers "are really, really excited" about a new police station for a variety of different reasons, which speaks to the need. The cost of demolishing the former St. Leo School building was included in a $422,000 purchase price of the property, according to Traugott. The City of Versailles will acquire the former St. Leo property from CKS, LLC (Tim Cambron, Jack Kain and Fred Seitz).