When Architect Brian W. Humes arrived at the Woodbridge Police Department Tuesday afternoon to meet with Deputy Chief Ray Stuart about the presentation that evening on plans to renovate the building, at that same time a convicted felon was being escorted out the same door.
That, Humes said, can pose a safety hazard to the public and is one of several things that need to be changed in the upcoming renovation project at the department.
Humes, of Jacunski Humes Architects, LLC of Berlin, presented plans to a joint meeting of the boards of selectmen and finance Tuesday night
Right now the department has about 11,000 square feet of space. It's recommended that it needs about 19,700 square feet, but the renovation project doesn't expand the footprint of the building but only refurbishes existing space.
Humes said his firm has been working on the plans since 2008 and they are very familiar with the building and its specific needs.
Because there's no explosion in staffing levels expected, the existing space should be able to accommodate the department for many years to come, he told the boards. There's only expected to be an increase of four officers over the next 20 years, he said, which can be accommodated in the current space.
"This is not driven by a need to occupy more people," he said. "We want to make the conditions safer and correct some building code issues and some issues that have existed since the 1970s."
One goal of the project is to create a main entrance in the center of the building that would be a more obvious main entrance that the current entrance.
"Now the entrance is hard to identify," he said. "We want to provide this presence along Meetinghouse Road."
The first phase of the project would renovate the dispatch area, the administrative area and the records area, as well as the public spaces, eliminating situations where convicted criminals would use those areas, Humes said, thus making it safer for the public.
The project also would make the front area handicapped accessible, he said.
The second phase would include other parts of the building used by patrol officers. The entire project would do more than just renovate the space for police use, Humes said -- it also would upgrade the building itself, making it more energy efficient through upgrades such as new windows and a switch from oil heat to gas.
The $5.2 million price tag is less than half of what it would cost to build new, Humes said. The town has already received a $500,000 state grant to go toward the project.
From the time of approval, it will take eight months to start the project, he said, giving time for the bid documents to be assembled and two months for the project to go out to bid.