Wilmette, News

Village Board could see updated projections for proposed police station in July

Details surrounding a large-scale public facility project that’s been on the minds of Wilmette officials for more than two decades are continuing to emerge. 

Wilmette Village Manager Michael Braiman presented the board of trustees during its Tuesday, June 25 meeting with a brief update on the village’s evaluation for a new police station. 

According to a project timeline presented by Braiman a preliminary project cost projection could make its way to the Village Board as soon as late July. 

The board’s Public Safety Committee is set to meet on July 18, per Braiman, who said the session will be devoted to reviewing and preparing cost estimates for the potential multimillion dollar project. The goal for the outcome of that meeting is for the committee to make a recommendation to Wilmette’s Village Board on the overall project scope and budget, Braiman added. 

A presentation from the committee could be on the docket for the Village Board’s July 23 meeting, officials said during the June 25 session. 

Braiman noted that the project will need to transition from the committee level to the Village Board to be “fully vetted,” he said, comparing it to the process that Wilmette’s massive neighborhood storage stormwater management project underwent.  

Near the conclusion of his presentation, Braiman also said Wilmette is hoping to host a joint open house and committee of the whole meeting sometime in September to provide further information to the community in a public forum. 

The Village Board’s finance subcommittee will then begin to dig into more detailed funding scenarios later in the summer. 

Officials would then target the village board reaching a consensus to proceed with the project and the general scope of it before Wilmette would award a contract for concept design. This could occur in late September or October, per the timeline presented by Braiman. 

The timeline detailed during the meeting is likely to change and the process will evolve, Braiman noted. 

Latest conversation

As previously reported by The Record, Wilmette officials renewed conversations around a new police station in May of 2023 when the board of trustees approved a needs assessment and land use study. 

Additionally, the Village Board’s Public Safety Committee has visited and toured four nearby, newly constructed police stations to learn what other suburban police departments have done to address aging facilities. 

A central aspect of the public safety committee’s recent work has been focusing on space determination, more specifically determining what is the “appropriate net building space to meet the current and future needs of the Wilmette Police Department,” Braiman said. 

Per Braiman, officials to this point have viewed space needs in different ways, breaking their determination down into net building spacing and circulation space. Net building space includes the “functional areas” of the police station, while circulation space includes hallways, stairwells, elevators, etc. 

The early lean from village staff was just under 42,000 square feet of net building space. That figure represents an approximate 7.5 percent reduction in the recommendation from a study done by FGM Architects. 

The projected gross building square footage could be between 54,449 and 58,638 square feet, per the early numbers included in village documents shown on June 25. 

Braiman noted several times that square footage figures will change as the process progresses. Village Trustee Stephen Leonard, who is a member of the public safety committee, also noted that cost projections “could change radically depending on the site.” 

“There’s so much that can change,” Leonard said. “We’re doing the best that we can with the information that we have but we’re also aware that we don’t have enough information. … That will come together, but you have to start somewhere.” 

Longtime want

Wilmette has devoted resources to exploring the possibility of a new police station for more than 20 years.

Space studies were previously 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. Findings also indicated that the department needs more space to improve “function, workflow, circulation and security,” village records show.

“This project has been 20 years in our thoughts and our planning and deferred on multiple occasions due to the great recession in an effort by the Village Board to find the right time to start the project to mitigate the impact to property tax payers,” Braiman said.

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.

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martin carlino
Martin Carlino

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.

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