Construction of a new multi-level building for the Carson City Sheriff's Department could begin late this year, a long-awaited remedy to an overcrowded, ramshackle police headquarters.
Architectural plans for the new 40,000-square-foot building are nearly finished, and city planners will go before the Board of Supervisors next month to ask for approval of the the estimated $12 million project, said City Manager Linda Ritter.
If project plans get the board's final go-ahead, construction crews could begin work by the end of this year, she said.
The new headquarters is slated to replace a drug detoxification center on the corner of Harbin and Musser streets, just east of the old building. The new facility would include room for dispatchers, interview rooms, training rooms and administrative offices.
Supervisors decided last year to move forward with a new building instead of retrofitting or adding to the existing facility, because it provided for all the department's future needs.
They hired Reno architect firm Ganthner Melby LLC for $150,000 to provide detailed schematic drawings.
The existing sheriff's building at 901 E. Musser St., built in 1966, is in shoddy condition, and its replacement couldn't be built too soon, said Sheriff Kenny Furlong.
The basement, built over groundwater flow, has flooded several times in the last decade. Water has damaged crime evidence, kept in the basement's vault.
"Another flood could have a huge impact on public safety," Furlong said.
Damage to the chain of evidence, he said, would ruin most of the district attorney's cases.
Water pumps on each corner of the building push water away from the building, the only current safety measure against another flood.
Mold and calcium deposits line the basement walls as well, posing potential health risks to employees.
Furlong said the building's small size and absence of interview rooms is hindering deputies from doing their jobs properly, and is also a disservice to the public.
"We need to have a facility that can accommodate public needs," Furlong said. "When you walk into the building, you're within arm's reach of someone else, with no accommodations. You could have been the victim of a sexual crime and have to tell your story in front of a dozen people."
In addition, 60 percent of the police building is condemned, forcing 144 employees to share less than half the space originally built for 30 employees in 1966.
The building was used as a jail for many years, until population growth forced an overflow of prisoners to a new jail, adjacent to the courthouse west of the police station on Musser Street.
Ritter said as soon as city planners can find a spot to relocate the Community Counseling Center and the city board approves architectural plans, demolition of the counseling center and the old sheriff's office can begin.
"Hopefully we'll be breaking ground on this thing soon," Furlong said.
The city will pay for the new station by issuing bonds with reserve funds and existing property taxes.
Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-0564.