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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SOLON — The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is working with the city of Solon to open a satellite office in the former Solon City Hall — as both the sheriff’s office and the city continue to grow.
Mayor Steve Stange shared the update during a joint meeting between the Solon City Council and the Johnson County Board of Supervisors on Thursday evening.
Stange said the former city hall, at 223 S. Iowa St., is mainly being used to store records and not in a way that “could better the city.”
Solon City Council members, he said, brought up the idea of using the building as a sheriff’s substation.
City staff moved into the current City Hall in May 2014.
“Since I’ve been mayor, it'll pop up that people think we need a police department, and that being my previous profession, I know how much that costs and what comes with it,” said Stange, who has been mayor since 2014.
“We really can't get a better coverage than we get from the sheriff's office,” he said.
The substation would be a place for deputies to meet with the public, take reports, conduct interviews and follow up on calls for service, Sheriff Brad Kunkel said.
Deputies also would have a space to complete reports and paperwork instead of having to drive back to the Iowa City office.
The sheriff’s office is working on a proposed layout for the satellite station, and no cost estimates are available at this point, Kunkel said.
A satellite station, Kunkel said, also would provide more space for the sheriff’s office. The office had 50 employees in 1981, when it opened, and just under 100 employees today.
A substation “brings a lot” of benefits, Stange said. “But the other thing it brings is that sign — that presence — that we do have law enforcement presence in our community.”
Solon grew by 48 percent in the past 10 years, according to the 2020 census — from 2,037 residents in 2010 to 3,018 residents in 2020.
A “parallel discussion” about a substation is going on with Tiffin, Kunkel said.
Tiffin is the fastest growing city in Iowa — growing by 131.7 percent in the past decade, from 1,947 residents in 2010 to 4,512 residents in 2020.
“The city is considering a proposal I offered a while back,” Kunkel said in an email to The Gazette. “They’ve also hired a consultant to examine their needs and make a recommendation about law enforcement services in their community.”
In other Solon news, the city this week broke ground for a $4.2 million firehouse.
“It's been a long time coming,” Stange said at the joint city-county meeting this week. “It started about four years ago, and it's really been a great community project.”
The city’s fire station was built in the 1950s and responded to about 50 calls each year. In 2019, the volunteer fire department answered more than 450 calls.
The new firehouse will be about two-and-a-half times the size of the current one, with eight drive-through bays. It will have dorm rooms, a kitchen area, meeting and office space, and a basement that will serve as a firefighter family area.
The community raised $1.2 million in donations for the new station, with $3 million coming from the city in general obligation bonds.
The city hopes to open the new station in July or August next year, Stange said.
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