It’s been roughly eight months since ground was broken on the site of the new North Liberty police station, and Police Chief Diane Venenga said in light of some setbacks, they hope to move into the new facility this spring.
The North Liberty Police Department operates out of a 2,600-square-foot building at 5 E. Cherry St. That building previously served as a farmhouse, a pediatrician’s office and City Hall.
Venenga previously told The Gazette the police department has outgrown its facility, which lacks appropriate meeting, storage and parking space.
Once completed, city spokesman Nick Bergus said, the $5.75 million, 16,000-square-foot facility will give North Liberty officers the space they need to do their jobs, while providing enough space to facilitate the department’s ongoing growth.
In 2017, the City Council approved $5 million in general obligation bonds for the construction of a police station. That figure was increased to $5.75 million after last December’s bid from Tricon Construction Group came in at $5.567 million, about $1 million more than originally expected.
What’s happened since
Construction began this past April, and now, roughly eight months later, the building’s shell stands at East Cherry and Main streets diagonally across from the building the police department now occupies.
“The walls are up,” Venenga said. “Now we’re waiting on the masons to start doing the brick and the stone facade.”
Venenga said contractors have hit a few snags since construction began, but nothing serious enough to throw the project off schedule.
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“A few things were turned up when they started digging the foundation,” she said. “A large tank was found on the property — there was nothing in it, but it looked like it might have been an old tank for heating oil.”
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources tested the ground to ensure safety, Venenga said, and then dug the area out.
Additionally, contractors found a vault and a cistern while they were digging.
“And those were all found where our building is supposed to go, so it presented some constructional issues — it slows down the construction process — but wasn’t so big that it would derail the project,” the chief said.
With the building’s exterior mostly erected, Venenga said, contractors are tackling the building’s interior — installing the wiring, ductwork and plumbing before drywall is put in.
“We’re hoping by the end of March, early April, we’ll be moving into the building,” Venenga said. “Or that we at least will start getting our furniture and our stuff all up. It will probably take a few weeks longer to be fully operational.”
And though the building is expected to be done by spring, the grounds are another story.
“We’re finding there are a lot of water issues on that site,” Bergus said.
The site is right next to Penn Meadows Park, which has a “high water table,” Bergus said, and the park drains into the site.
“So, we’re creating a water retention area so it doesn’t affect the building, our neighbors or the rest of the businesses in the area,” he said.
It’s something Bergus said the city was prepared for.
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