Franchot visits new Hurlock PD building site

MD-franchot visits new policedept_3x

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Donning golden shovels at the building site for the new Hurlock police station are Senator Addie Eckardt, Chief Les Hutton, John Avery of Planning & Zoning, Mayor Joyce Spratt, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes.

HURLOCK — The brick building built in 1903 as offices for Continental Can Company that serves as the Hurlock Police Station is scheduled for replacement. The multi-year journey to reach a consensus on the project has been arduous. Factions for and against the $1.7 million endeavor battled each other on numerous fronts. Some argued for renovation; some resented a lack of public input; some were eager for a new structure.

Discussion had been ongoing since 2010 and in October 2011 it looked like a done deal when plans for a new facility were presented by Tim Crosby of Crosby Associates, at a Town Council meeting where the council voted to proceed.

Mr. Crosby first described the deficiencies and violations of the aging 3,600 square foot two-story police station. The building has no separation between juvenile and adult detention facilities or between patrol and detention holding areas; and, there is no secure perimeter around the building or between areas of administration, patrol, and detention.

The building is in poor condition despite steps taken in the recent past to try and cure operational and physical deficiencies. It is not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant; there are no shower or locker facilities for both sexes; the mechanical and electrical systems are not up to building codes; there are structural problems; and, there is rot in the roof.

Renovation and a 4,000 square foot expansion of the current facility were considered.

According to Mr. Crosby, “A new facility would be the most cost effective approach and would be less to maintain and operate.” The new design accommodates short term growth or expansion by increasing density and expansion for long term growth in small increments. Crosby described the proposed building as “a very simple level of finish” with a maintenance free exterior that resembles the town’s railroad station.

Complaints of a lack of citizen involvement prompted a move to gauge public opinion. Two Open Houses invited the public to tour the old building to see its deficiencies for themselves. The council then voted to place the issue on the November 2013 ballot: “Should the Town of Hurlock build a new police station with an approximate cost of $1.2 million to become compliant with current regulations using funds previously allocated from loans that have been fully paid?” The election results showed public support.

The grant approval process, begun in 2011 with the USDA, continued as the agency reviewed the preliminary design, examined the projections, looked at the town’s finances, and approved a 40 year $1.2 million loan with approximate yearly payments of $60,000.

Last fall, Mayor Spratt and the Council chose Hebron Savings Bank as their lender of choice. Hebron’s loan pays for construction and is repaid after construction with the pre-approved USDA loan. According to architect Crosby, the 3.125 percent interest rate obtained in 2011 by the town is “the lowest interest rate that USDA has ever given.” Current rates are 4.45 percent.
Bids were solicited and general contractors Harper & Sons, Inc. of Easton was selected in February 2015 for its bid of $1,336,761. The contractor said the building was very efficiently designed and contained nothing that would be considered “gilding the lily.”

As the ultimate mortgage holder, the USDA requires Hurlock to allocate 8 percent of the low bid for unexpected additional costs, or contingencies. That amounts to $107,000. But, Mr. Crosby noted, “The rule is if you don’t spend it you don’t borrow it.” The loan also requires an on-site inspector to be hired by the town for about $65,000. Money already paid for architecture and engineering costs was $115,000. Three prefabricated steel cells will be constructed offsite and installed with a crane. Their cost will be $39,000 each, totaling $117,000.

A performance and payment bond is also required in case the contractor cannot finish the job. The cost of construction, performance bond, prefab cells, and an on-site inspector totals $1,698,701. “When we started this process in 2011,” said Mr. Crosby, “it was a whole different world of finances than we’re seeing today. On our projects we’re seeing the costs spiral significantly. Those planned a year or two ago are coming in today 20 percent higher…Now is the best time and the prices are only going to go up in the next 12-18 months.” He added that 90 percent of the subcontractors will be local.

Mr. Crosby recommended three items to include in the loan: Construction, contingency, and the three cells. He explained that the heating and cooling system is all geothermal. “The savings from that is really significant. Lighting inside is LED which is 10 times the amount of light and 1/10th the cost. It is a very energy conscious design.”

Chief Hutton believes the new building will “bring us up to the standards where we need to be with the State of Maryland and will enhance our professionalism. It’s going to look picturesque and I think people will stop by just to look at the building.”

According to Mayor Spratt the old building will be reborn as a train and town history museum.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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