By Adam Hocking
Editor’s note: Members of the Marshfield Common Council, Mayor Chris Meyer, and City Administrator Steve Barg met Tuesday, July 28, in the city’s sixth strategic planning session. Much of the conversation focused on the state of city-owned facilities.
Discussed were the long-term viability of city hall as a location for city departments, the space limitations of the current police department, and the possibility of combining currently separate facilities under a single roof in the future. It is important to note that strategic planning sessions involve conversations that are conceptual in nature and do not represent any imminent action from the city.
This article is the second of a three-part series and concerns the police station.
MARSHFIELD — Consulting firm Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc. conducted a needs assessment for the Marshfield Police Department, which was published in March of 2014.
The findings from that study were that the police department is generally in good condition — despite not being significantly modified since it was built in 1981 — but has space limitations in terms of area to store squad cars. The study noted that storing police vehicles in the station’s outdoor lot is not ideal because modern squad cars have a “significant amount of electronics, which need care to extend their useful life.”
The assessment also recommended updating the department’s security system to be more in line with modern police stations.
Darren Larson, administrative lieutenant with the Marshfield Police Department, said that law enforcement has evolved in such a way that could not have been anticipated when the facility was constructed in 1981. One such issue is that with DNA evidence becoming vital to cases, the need to store that type of evidence has increased.
He added that to address some of the space limitations for squad cars and equipment, the department uses an off-site garage for extra storage, but that is also filled to capacity.
“We try to adjust the best that we can, and in time I think that any Band-Aid ultimately needs to be replaced with some more permanent and more useful and efficient process,” Larson said. He later added, “We are limited with walls and design obstacles that just don’t make it very conducive to do our daily jobs right now.”
A growing department personnel-wise has also added to the cramped quarters of the department. Larson said the number of total staff has grown by eight or nine positions since the department was built.
The Zimmerman study determined that there is space to build a sufficient garage for squad storage on site, and then the existing garage could provide added space for evidence storage. The cost estimate the study gave for a garage addition at 4,600 square feet was about $824,000.