Planning for a project that could carry a $30 million price tag and has been on Wilmette’s wishlist for decades is back in play.
Wilmette’s Village Board unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday, May 23, to award a contract to FGM Architect for a needs assessment and land use study for a new police station.
The Village has devoted resources to exploring the possibility of a new police station for more than 20 years. According to a memo from Police Chief Kyle Murphy, space studies were conducted in both 2002 and 2007 to review the department’s existing facility and determine how much added square footage is needed.
Those studies determined that 50,000 square feet was needed to meet the needs of the Wilmette community, Murphy said in the memo to the board. Findings also indicated that the department needs more space to improve “function, workflow, circulation and security,” village records show.
Police officials also said the studies identified needed upgrades to bring the department’s station into compliance with regulatory requirements.
Wilmette’s current police station at 710 Ridge Road opened in 1968 at just over 16,500 square feet, according to village documents. Eighteen years later, a 3,500-square-foot addition — containing a women’s locker room, prisoner intake area, fitness facility, and administrative and records spaces — was built to the south end of the facility.
Murphy said service expectations, employee demographic changes and technological advances are the driving forces behind the police department’s need for a new facility.
Police provided the village with a lengthy list of specific needs to justify a new facility. That list includes a clearer public entrance, more privacy space for citizen reporting, more parking, an improved communications center, larger locker rooms, and larger spaces for investigations and modern evidence processing.
A panel representing the village manager’s office, engineering and public works department, and the police department selected the proposal from FGM Architects for an amount not to exceed $92,400, per village documents. The firm has completed more than 250 local, state and national police projects, according to Murphy, who also noted FGM recently finished several nearby police stations, including in Mount Prospect, St. Charles and Palatine.
As part of its needs assessment and land use study, FGM Architects will be responsible for identifying up to three locations within Wilmette for a new police facility.
The firm is also partnering with Strauss Realty, said Ray Lee, the company’s principal in charge, said in a letter to the village. The letter stated that FGM would utilize the local expertise of realtor Patrick Duffy, who is currently a commissioner on the Wilmette Park Board and serves as the board’s vice president.
Village Manager Mike Braiman, however, said in a followup email to The Record that Duffy will not be involved in any real-estate review.
“It’s possible the Village will look at Wilmette Park District property or property adjacent to park district land for this project and because Mr. Duffy currently serves as a Wilmette Park Board commissioner, it’s necessary to avoid any conflicts of interest or even the appearance of a conflict,” Braiman wrote. “Accordingly, we requested and FGM has confirmed verbally that Mr. Duffy will not be part of any real estate review, if such a review is conducted as part of this project.”
Project plans are still preliminary but the next step in the process could be a land acquisition study, which would be conducted in 2024, officials said. Engineering design work is planned for and budgeted in 2024-25 at an early cost of $2.5 million, according to village documents. Construction could start in 2026 and run through 2027. The initial estimated cost is approximately $30 million, police said.
Representatives from FGM Architects are tentatively scheduled to make a presentation detailing their finding to Wilmette’s village board later this fall.
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Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.