Village administrators from Sauk City and Prairie du Sac received their first look at the results of a space needs study for the Sauk Prairie Police Department that could cost up to $5 million.
During the May 9 Police Commission meeting, MSA Professional Services representative Carter Arndt presented what he referred to as “a road map of needs” should the villages ever decide to move forward with a design.
The space needs study, which was funded with grant dollars, was requested by Sauk Prairie Police Chief Jerry Strunz and approved by the commission earlier in the year. Strunz has been outspoken about his desire for both communities to look at the future needs of the villages and how the department will serve them in the future.
Currently the police department takes up the lower level of the Sauk City Municipal Building, but has storage facilities off site due to the current site’s limitations. The department leases storage from the village of Prairie du Sac. The village has expressed interest in someday soon reclaiming that facility for its own use. That would mean the department would have to find another place to rent.
Additionally, Strunz has shared concerns about the department’s ability to meet the changing needs of record keeping and evidence storage, in addition to needing a better plan for keeping individuals who have been arrested from semi-public areas in the current facility.
“This is a planning facility,” Arndt said. “If you are going to build new, you should be building to suit the department and community needs for the next 25-30 years. And the investment into it should be proportionate.”
Arndt said constructing a facility with the ability to be expanded in the future will enable the department to grow without having to relocate or build new again.
It is not determined whether the police department would be pursuing land for a new facility, or vacant buildings it could retrofit. There has been previous discussion about the two entities sharing space like they do currently. A new facility would have a footprint of just over 22,000 square feet, based on the department’s projected future needs.
Using 2019 cost projections, Arndt estimated the cost for a new facility would be about $240 per square foot, with the adjoining garage at a cost of $160 per square foot. Arndt put a placeholder figure of $100,000 for site development “and a little contingency,” bringing the estimated cost to $5 million.
Arndt said he didn’t think the Sauk Prairie community would ever get big enough for it to make sense to have a secondary or satellite department.
“Sometimes there are reasons when geographically (a community) is so spread out,” Arndt said. “But I don’t see too many satellite police departments just for the sake of centralizing.”
“I really don’t think we’ve put a lot of fluff in this,” Strunz said. “We have to plan long term and it’s obviously going to be a very nice facility for our community. And I know that price tag is a scary number.”
Strunz asked what the process looks like now that the space needs study has been completed.
Arndt said when they are ready to consider moving forward, a site selection process would be the next step.
Arndt said it was timely both the village of Sauk City and the police department were conducting space needs assessments at the same time and that it could be helpful with future planning, as well as consider alternate concepts.
“Whatever you do, just make sure you do it right,” said Prairie du Sac village board president Cheryl Sherman. “Something to be thinking about is interest rates have been going up. And one thing we learned in Prairie, is by putting things off, it ends up costing you more.”
Sherman said Prairie du Sac village administrator Alan Wildman did the math for the project, estimating a home valued at $250,000 would see an increase of about $90.
“You wait another two years or something or don’t do it right; this is bare bones and if it can get us 35 years I say we go for it,” Sherman said. “Like I say, it’s a steal, really. You’re not going to get it any cheaper. And I will fight for you guys.”