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The Rundown – City and County move forward with remodel of Law Enforcement Center

Post Date:08/23/2017 1:31 PM

The Rundown is prepared by the City of Newton Public Information Office to summarize the City Commission meeting and does not represent official Commission minutes.

7 p.m. Aug. 22, 2017, Newton City Commission meeting

At a joint work session Tuesday night with the Harvey County Commission, the City Commission directed staff to move forward with a plan to remodel the existing Law Enforcement Center.

Cost for the renovation is estimated at roughly $3 million, although firm costs won’t be known until construction drawings are complete. Both Commissions agreed to move forward with hiring WDM Architects to prepare those plans. Once firm cost estimates are known, the City and County will work on a cost-sharing agreement.

It’s estimated that the renovation plan, which was recommended by the City’s Citizen Council on Law Enforcement Facilities, would meet the needs of the Police Department for the next seven to 10 years by making more efficient use of space, relocating some operations, and collaborating with the Sheriff’s Office on some joint uses. For example, the space at the back of the west side of the building that is currently used as evidence storage would be transitioned into an office to house the new joint Drug Task Force.

The City has been evaluating the Police Department’s facility needs for the past 10 years. In 2015 the City purchased land at 320 N. Main and hired WDM to design a new law enforcement center. After hearing public concern about the cost and location, however, the Commission appointed the Citizen Council to re-examine the issue. The volunteer council met several times over the course of six weeks before presenting its recommendation to the Commissions.

Special events policy

The City Commission also adopted a new special events policy. Fees for City services at festivals, parades and other events can be waived by the City Commission, except in the case of security fencing needed for events that serve alcohol or charge admission fees and for dedicated police or fire/EMS presence. A security deposit may be requested for large events that do not have an established history. All events requesting City services will pay a $25 application fee.

Community recognitions

The City Commission honored two of Newton High School’s most accomplished student-athletes: Janae Voelker Inman and Payton Roberts. Both women were standout multi-sport athletes at NHS, followed by Division I athletic careers.

The Commission also welcomed the Newton Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken Baseball teams that competed in their State tournaments this year.

In other action, the City Commission:

  1. Initiated condemnation proceedings for land owned by BNSF Railroad and Vae Nortrak adjacent to Sand Creek along West First Street, for construction of a new water storage tank. The existing tank, which was built in 1939, is deteriorating and must be replaced. It is hoped that initiating proceedings will spur negotiations for sale of the land.
  2. Reviewed a draft right-of-way ordinance, which would establish a permitting process for use of the public right-of-way for utilities, poles, sidewalks, mailboxes, irrigation systems, etc.
  3. Approved a request to close West Sixth Street on Aug. 30 for a Community Pep Rally.
  4. Approved a request to close West Sixth Street on Sept. 30 for the “Ain’t No Joke” Back 2 School Food Truck Rally and approved a temporary alcohol permit for the event.
  5. Approved a cereal malt beverage license for Play-Mor Lanes.

For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or