BY ANDREAS YILMA
PROSPECT — Since the Prospect Police Department building has run out of storage space and needs to upgrade some of its services, town officials are exploring the possibility of a new facility.
The Police Department Needs Assessment Subcommittee, which included Town Council member Kathryn Zandri, Mayor Robert Chatfield and Prospect Police Lt. Nelson Abarzua held a meeting on Feb. 2 at Chapel Hall with DeCarlo & Doll, Inc. Architects and Engineers officials to hold a presentation do a walk through of the police station on Center Street.
The subcommittee also met on Jan. 30 to accept a Request for Proposal to send out. The RFPs must be submitted to the town by March 15. The RFP includes space and program requirements for immediate and future needs.
The current police building at 8 Center Street was built in 1987 and is about 2,430 square feet large, according to the property card.
Abarzua said a proposed location for a new police building would be the town owned parcel of land directly across the street from the current building right next to the Prospect Library.
The proposed project will be an American Rescue Plan Act-funded project. The town currently has about $2.7 million of the $2.8 million previously received from ARPA.
The conversation around building a new police department building has been going on for at least 15 years, Abarzua said
“The police department is busting at the seams. We can no longer keep a lot of things that we’re supposed to have,” Abarzua said. “We’re looking for storage facilities right now to keep documentation to keep other stuff that is getting ruined.”
Abarzua said the police department has a steel container behind the building that holds documents because there is not space in the building. A dehumidifier runs 24/7 but is not strong enough to keep the humidity out as some of the documents are rotting out.
Zandri, who has a lot of family in law-enforcement, said the town wants to prepare for the future and has to take a step towards that direction as the needs of the community and times are both changing.
“The future of the resident trooper program and those duties most likely are going to cease. Why not start investing in, and taking the steps,” Zandri said. “We purchased the land across the street for the purpose. Let’s start preparing and planning.”
Abarzua said when he became a resident state trooper in 1998, there were three part-time patrol men but it has changed to 20 patrol men currently.
“We’re going to continuously grow because of the needs of the town and the request from the town residents,” Abarzua said.
The time is going to come where the town will have to make a decision where it moves forward on its own or stay with the resident state trooper program, Abarzua said.
Chatfield said the town is currently sharing the resident state trooper program with Bethany.
Zandri said if a police officer is exposed to hazardous material in the field, they don’t have any showers or eye-stations. The police building also doesn’t have a sally port.
There would no one available at the police building, if someone in the middle of the night was in need and had to stop and walk into the police department, Abarzua said.
Abarzua said if someone hypothetically walked into the building to make a claim of a sexual assault, he would have to kick out the secretary out of her officer to have a private location.
“How would you feel if you had a problem and you got to tell me your problems and I can’t put you behind closed doors or in a private area where you could open up and tell me your problems,” Abarzua said.
Zandri said Chatfield has protected the town well with the fire department and now it’s time to start planning for the police department, Zandri said.
DeCarlo & Doll Inc. Architects and Engineering Vice President of Architectural Studio Robert Grzywacz said his engineering firm, which also designed the Prospect Volunteer Fire Department building, will likely be submitting for qualificaitons for this project.