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News Feb 13, 2015 - 1:17:03 AM

Stamford Mayor Unveils Proposal for New Police Headquarters

By Stamford Mayor David Martin's office

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STAMFORD, CT - Stamford Mayor David Martin, joined by Chief of Police Jonathan Fontneau, Director of Public Safety Ted Jankowski, Stamford Historical Society Chairman Pam Coleman, local officials, and community members, announced his plan for a new state-of-the-art police headquarters to be built on the current headquarters location and adjacent properties.

The Mayor’s proposal calls for constructing a new police headquarters next to the existing police building by acquiring two adjacent properties, currently owned by the Stamford Historical Society and the Law Offices of Plotnick & Plotnick. The Stamford Historical Society property is the current site of the historic Hoyt Barnum House, which with the support of the Stamford Historical Society, will be carefully relocated to an alternative site. The City has also secured an option to purchase the Plotnick property. It is anticipated that the total project will be complete within three years. The City is in the process of selecting an architect to provide an updated needs assessment and preliminary cost estimates.

“When the police headquarters was built in 1955, Stamford was a town. Over the past sixty years, Stamford has enjoyed tremendous growth. The time has come for our police facility to reflect the vibrant city that we have become,” said Mayor David Martin. “I am proud to stand here today alongside the men and women of the Stamford Police Department and City leaders to announce a plan for a new state-of-the-art police headquarters.”

“The police headquarters has been in need of investment for some time and this is an enormous step forward. The condition of the current building has been a deep concern throughout the department. I am extremely proud of our officers’ dedication during this period. This is a big day for the Stamford Police Department and I would like to thank everyone for their support, not just for this project, but for the work we do each and every day,” said Chief of Police Jonathan Fontneau.

Stamford’s population and the demands on its police force have grown substantially since the police building was built in 1955. A needs assessment published in 2006 found the current building to have an ineffective layout and insufficient space. A new police building will enable the department to centralize operations and work within a modern facility reflecting 21st-century public safety standards.

"Stamford Police Officers encounter dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations on a daily basis while protecting life and property. These brave men and women deserve a new, functional and appropriate workspace.This location is ideal because it is next to the courthouse and is centrally located for a citywide response,” said Ted Jankowski, Director of Public Safety.

The Mayor’s announcement follows several months of exploration and deliberation by administration and public safety officials. The City conducted an exhaustive search and considered proposals and concepts from residential and commercial property owners and others in the community.

Summary of Mayor’s Plan

1. Purchase property at 671 Bedford Street from the Law Offices of Plotnick & Plotnick.

2. Complete a land swap with the Stamford Historical Society by providing 1508 High Ridge Road (their current location) in exchange for the property at 713 Bedford Street.

3. Secure an additional appropriation in the amount of $500,000 to be used immediately to update the police department needs assessment and fund initial architectural design and cost estimates for the project.

4. Relocate and restore the historic Hoyt Barnum House.

5. Construct a new police headquarters on the newly-created site.

Elected officials offered their support for the Mayor’s plan.

“Addressing the needs of our police facilities is a daunting task involving many considerations ranging from public safety concerns, space requirements, and fiscal constraints, and the Mayor has put forward a strong proposal. I want to congratulate Mayor Martin and the members of his administration for bringing forth a creative, lower cost proposal to address this long-standing problem. I look forward to considering the plan as it comes before the Board of Representatives and working with the Mayor and our elected and appointed officials, including Chief Fontneau, to see that the city gets a police headquarters that will serve our needs both now and for the foreseeable future,” said Randy Skigen, President of the Board of Representatives.

“There is no question that investing in our police headquarters is a critical public safety priority. The investment we make today will improve our Police Department’s ability to keep our community safe for decades to come and will ensure Stamford remains a safe and vibrant community,” said John Louizos, Chairman of the Board of Finance.

“The administration was very thorough in its approach to solving the issue. I thank the Mayor for the leadership role he and his staff took on finding a way to resolve the issue,” said Theresa Dell, Chair of the Planning Board.

The administration will present its plan before the Planning Board, Board of Finance and Board of Representatives for all required approvals. The property purchase, land swap and Hoyt Barnum House relocation, additional appropriation, and capital project costs are expected to be considered by the boards in the coming weeks and months.

Interim Plan for Current Facility

Last fall, the City was cited by the Connecticut Department of Labor-OSHA for several violations related to the presence of asbestos-containing material in the current facility. The City immediately engaged with CONN-OSHA to resolve those violations. Air quality testing was done as soon as the presence of asbestos was discovered and is now being done quarterly, as part of the City’s resolution of the asbestos citation. The results of the periodic air testing are reported to CONN-OSHA. All of the air quality tests done to date have been negative and indicate that there is no danger to those present in the facility from airborne asbestos.

The City is in ongoing communication with the relevant State agencies to develop effective plans for addressing both short-term and long-term concerns. In response to the recent testing which found settled dust containing asbestos in several locations in the facility, the City hired Fuss & O’Neill and AAIS to systematically and safely clean all contaminated dust in the facility, with guidance from the State Departments of Health and CONN-OSHA. Police will continue their operations in the current facility until the new building construction is complete, which is estimated to take up to three years.

“The City is committed to ensuring the men and women of the Stamford Police Department are working in a safe environment. The City has been and will continue to be proactive in monitoring air quality and any environmental risk that may exist from the presence of asbestos in the facility. It is imperative that the City protect the health of employees and visitors to the building and work with the appropriate local and state officials to ensure the safety of everyone who is in the facility,” said Mayor David Martin.

Preserving Stamford’s History

The Mayor and his staff are working closely with the Stamford Historical Society to preserve and protect the Hoyt Barnum House, built in 1699, the oldest authentic residence in Stamford. The Mayor and administration officials have discussed the home and its relocation with the Stamford Historical Society, and sought input from the Historic Neighborhood Preservation Program, the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission, and outside experts in historic preservation. The Stamford Historical Society Board of Directors supports the proposed land swap and the relocation of the Hoyt Barnum House.

The Historical Society’s preferred site for the relocated Hoyt Barnum House is adjacent to the Martha Hoyt School, their current headquarters, located at 1508 High Ridge Road. Centralizing the Historical Society’s offerings on one campus will allow for the Historical Society to provide enhanced educational opportunities and more convenient access for visitors. The Historical Society has agreed to explore proposed alternative sites for the house and will be working with the City and soliciting input from the community in the coming weeks and months.

“The proposal being negotiated with the Mayor is a win-win. We are proud to partner with the City to relocate the historic Hoyt Barnum House, which will enhance and centralize the offerings of the Stamford Historical Society, and at the same time help facilitate a critical public safety project,” said Pam Coleman, Chairman of the Board of the Stamford Historical Society.

The project will also be presented before the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission. The Commission was created following the November 2012 referendum and is charged with providing guidance and advice to the City’s boards pertaining to historic structures throughout the city.

The Mayor is particularly pleased that the Stamford Historical Society, Historic Neighborhood Preservation Program and Historic Preservation Advisory Commission have volunteered to collaborate with the City and Stamford community to commemorate in our downtown the form, scale and orientation of the Hoyt Barnum House and to celebrate Stamford’s history.

“I appreciate the Mayor’s outreach to us early in the process and look forward to working together with his administration and others within the historic preservation community to assist with this important project,” said Wes Haynes, Executive Director of the Historic Neighborhood Preservation Program.

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