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Status report on Lancaster police/courts building
By Lee Chowaniec
Oct 4, 2011, 09:12
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Gwen Howard, senior project representative from Foit-Albert & Associates, gave a presentation on the status of the architectural design of the new Lancaster Pavement Road police/courts project.

Howard informed the attendees that in the past two weeks, since her last update, the firm has been working on the conceptual design, contacted the banks and are firming up probable construction costs as required for this phase of work. Their focus right now has been on the shooting range facility (old police garage at Pavement Road).

Howard declared they have been working on a combined one and two story building. Howard then displayed two drawings showing the concept design from two different views – one from Pavement Road, the other from within the complex.

Howard described the first floor of the building as constructed of brick and a recessed second floor will be covered with metal paneling. There will be horizontal cooper metal paneling on the upper floor. “There is a very rich, durable, plush look on the façade, but as maintenance free as you can find,” Howard remarked.

Supervisor Robert Giza requested attendees save their questions on the presentation until the public comment session portion of the meeting.

Public comment session

Resident Dan Beutler asked on the dimensions of the police/courts building as to square footage of each entity.

Howard answered that the total square footage of the building was 27,000 and that the police facility portion would be sized around 15,000 to 16,000 square feet.

Resident Mike Fronczak questioned Howard on the building foundation construction considering the public heard so much on why the Walden Avenue Colecraft Building foundation did not meet construction standards. "What kind of special foundation will be incorporated?"

Howard replied that as this was a new build the foundation has been designed to meet the required standards – thicker/deeper walls. The Walden Avenue facility foundation did not meet the increased weight load for the project and the standards set. “Those foundations would have had to be modified. In this case the spread or depth could be made ahead of time to meet the standards.”

Fronczak asked whether green technology would be incorporated into the design. Howard relied in the affirmative and said they were looking into a number of factors. “The recycled content on the metal panel, the recycled content on the concrete brick and the placement of the building so that there is proper solar mitigating gain with natural light.”

Howard later told a student that it is difficult to assess what percent of the project will incorporate green technology because of material component unknowns and location from where it came from.

Fronczak asked whether there would bollards positioned to protect the building and building occupants. Howard said they would look at that in the future but that they are not now part of the preliminary conceptual design.

A Lancaster High student asked what would be the total cost of the police/court project. He was told $10 million. His response was “Wow!”

Supervisor Robert Giza interjected that it was one of the most expensive undertakings the town would make but at the same time the police deserve it because the two-minute response time by the police in an emergency situation makes it worthwhile.” No offense to Elma, but do you want a two minute response time or perhaps up to a twenty minute wait like there?”

The student was then informed that the $10 million project cost included the shooting range.


Being heavily involved in this project, I was asked by a few people at last night’s meeting why I had not asked any questions on the project. The answer was simple. I am not an architect and know nothing regarding design and construction.

What is of concern to me is the cost of this project and the millions of dollars wasted since the purchase of the Colecraft Building took place in 2003. Eight years and one media report had the audacity to say the project is steadily moving forward.

The police deserve a new building. They deserved a new build eight years ago when several of us “regulars” proposed such undertaking in 2003.

It was in 2003 when the 50-year old, 76,000 square foot Walden Avenue Colecraft Building was purchased for the purpose of housing the then merged town and police forces and town courts that several residents spoke out on the condition of the building – especially its structural deficiencies.

The $10 million “wow” comment does not cover the project’s added bonding cost. This is a good time to borrow money we are being told as the interest rate is low at 0.37%. It is that rate until the town uses the money it bonded for. That rate will climb anywhere from 3-5% and we will be paying out somewhere around $2 million in interest over the term of the loan.

The Walden Avenue Colecraft Building was purchased for $1.63 million and the bond taken out was for $1.9 million. Interest on that loan will be over $700,000. This project will cost taxpayers near $14,000,000 after all is said and done. The town could have built new in 2003 for $6 million.

My comments will come when the final project cost is announced and when I hear what Foit- Albert will receive for their services – which include the Colecraft Building fiasco.

And, what has police response time have to do with the cost or location of the new police facility? The town can spin it anyway they want, this project was a textbook example of fiscal irresponsibility.

Lastly, why are we spending $600,000 for a shooting range when there are several within a 4 mile radius of the proposed police facility site? During this difficult economic climate why is the town honoring a wish list?

Where’s the sacrifice? Where’s the fiscal responsibility?

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