Union members raise concerns about new police station addition

Union members raise concerns about new police station addition

LINCOLN - Despite years of discussion about the proposed additions to the Lincoln police station, a representative of the Lincoln police union is now raising concerns about the design.

Sean Gorman approached the council during its May 27 meeting in hope of setting up a time to speak with council members about the addition.

Town Solicitor Anthony DeSisto told Gorman that a meeting could not be scheduled during public comment and Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond agreed.

"I don't believe this is an appropriate forum whatsoever for this type of conversation," Almond said.

Town Council President Keith Macksoud told The Breeze that union members have specific channels they need to follow in order to file a grievance and the council should be the last body they present their grievance to.

"There are provisions for this type of communication, long before we get to a town council," Almond explained. "In this particular case, we're talking about an issue that's three years old, that's been approved by voters at the Financial Town Meeting two times, and deliberated by a budget board two times."

Gorman told The Breeze that he wasn't "using the forum to make any complaints."

"We were told to ask for a work group session," he said. "And we just wanted to speak with somebody about it."

Town Council member John Flynn said the Capital Development Committee approved the addition to the police station three years ago and the first phase went before the voters at the FTM in 2013.

The first phase was approved, he said, but the construction bids were higher than the amount of money allocated.

Committee members met once again and re-did the design before sending it before the voters at this year's FTM, where the project was approved.

"As a member of the Capital Improvement Committee, I haven't had a chance to ask any questions about this because we haven't met since last December, and now that I'm hearing that members of the police department, who are going to work inside this facility, have concerns, I would have respect for the opinions of the people who work in there day in and day out, and the voters were never aware there were objections to this," Flynn said.

Almond said the project idea was researched by the police chief, his administrative staff, past union officials and current employees of the police department during previous meetings.

"I don't think I've been involved with one that has been more vetted out than this particular project," he said.

Almond said he was told that the union leaders wanted a free-standing building away from the Town Hall instead of multiple additions.

He said the debate about building a new structure came up during a previous Budget Board meeting, but the committee chose to approve the additions for various reasons.

He said committee members looked at how much the town could afford, and without any available land to construct a building, the idea was shot down.

Gorman told The Breeze that he would not comment on the concerns at this time, but they would be made public at a later date.

"We're just trying to put something together, a whole letter that has all our concerns in it and breaks everything down as to why we're concerned and were working with the town administrator," he said.

Voters at the FTM approved $3.1 million to construct an additional 6,600 square feet to the police station.

Almond said the police station is an older building and upgrades will be made to the cellblock areas and the sprinkler systems.

"It doesn't have enough space and it's not laid out properly, so we looked at all that and brought in consultants," he said. "Because the space is cramped, there isn't a good way to keep prisoners and detainees from the public and police officers; people have to cross paths a lot."

Macksoud said he plans to bring up the union's concerns during a work session in June and "it'll be a topic for council discussion and see if the council wants to discuss it with them."


What the Valley Breeze knows about and arbitrarily chooses not too incorporates into this article needs to be questioned!
What the Breeze is not telling the public:
Fact: The department’s present facility is incapable of being expanded in any meaningful way. It is, as the 1992 (2003) Describes it “As an annex of the town hall”. The building and much of the associated infrastructure is over 40 years old. The only realistic solution to solving the department’s present and anticipated space requirements is to relocate the department to a more suitable facility or to build a new facility from the ground up which would serve the needs of a modern police agency well into the future
• Source Town of Lincoln Comprehensive Plan 2003 Page SF-19
Fact: The police department finds itself in a situation where it is falling further and further behind industry standards with respect to almost all facets of its operations, in addition to being 11 police officers short of national standards.
• Source Town of Lincoln Comprehensive Plan 2003 Page SF-17/18
Now to address the reliability/ suitability of this Capital Development Committee, Who are they?
Did they ever have a public hearing on the matter? Are there any blue prints for review on the intent of this new structure? No!
Fact of the matter is that this committee has no legal standing whatsoever and is nothing more than a group of cronies put together by the administrator to fill and support is actions. In support of this observation: Administrator Almond put a press release out early in the year that he wanted to build a new senior center, followed by the creation of the committee, who conveniently took the position that the senior center was the most critical infrastructure problem facing Lincoln. (But not the police department, or High Hazards Dams, etc…).
It’s highly irregular not to have an established plan for this project, further it needs to come into serious question as to why this action was not given to the voters at a regular election process where the whole town can see.
It’s disturbing enough that the Lincoln Police Department is not an accredited agency and it needs to be asked of the Administrator why, and why nothing has been done since taking office in 2006?
In conclusion: I challenge the Valley Breeze to research this issue and review the facts at hand!

I couldn't understand why the police union was questioning their new police station. Then I realized it's not a new police station it's an overpriced make over of their crumbling current town hall space. Not to mention that space keeps getting cut down as the town tries to convince everyone that they don't meet so much space. So the space size is going down yet the cost to tax payers is going up. Now I see why the police are getting upset, they see what should be a full size, self standing building to suit the needs of the profession for years to come being replaced with some fresh paint and curtains . The town is using "new police station" to front the actual rehab of the Town Hall. A new police station wouldn't include offices for non-police personnel and improvements to town hall facilities. It only becomes the public safety building when the police aspect affords them money to fix things. Like homeland security money being used to spruce up the town hall side, but the police station remains deficient( by numerous studies and plans)

It would appear that the administration has changed their story yet again.
Different numbers and different project details. They are defiantly hiding something. Don't let them tell you it was unforeseen, not after the union tried to help them come clean and the TA opted to stick to his story.

Collect the press releases and judge for yourselves. There's fire where there is smoke.