Design plans for a new multi-million police district station received positive feedback and even applause at a neighborhood meeting Thursday, but the good feelings were tempered by Madison Police Chief Mike Koval, who expressed reserved enthusiasm on the project’s financial viability.
The Midtown District aims to ease pressure on the Madison Police Department’s growing South and West Districts, but its funding has caused friction between Mayor Paul Soglin and the City Council.
Describing himself as “at odds” with Soglin on the issue, Koval said public safety is in a “crossfire” between the mayor’s budget concerns and where the council’s priorities lie in funding the $10.8 million station.
He said he is concerned the mayor will not fund construction of the project in the 2017 budget. The station, which will be located on the 4000 block of Mineral Point Road, is slated to open in January 2018 under current plans.
“You can’t skip cycles on public safety,” Koval said. “It’s too hard to play catch up.”
Soglin and the City Council have disagreed over the decision to fund the district since 2014 when the Council voted to move up construction, despite Soglin proposing to hold off on the project until sometime after 2021.
“I think it’s left us in a very precarious situation,” Soglin said Wednesday of the decision to fund the district for 2016-2017.
For now, design plans are progressing and will likely be introduced at the Urban Design Commission in mid-May for submission in early June, which begins the first step in the city’s design approval process.
Engberg Anderson Architects presented plans for a 32,000-square-feet building made of an off-white brick with metal and wood accents. The plans include underground parking for police cars with access off Westmorland Boulevard.
Architect Mike Zuehlke, a resident of the area, said the project team considered design and materials used in the surrounding neighborhood to ensure the new station’s aesthetic fits in. The plans also preserve a large tree on the property, a concern of some residents, which will provide shade over the planned community room windows.
The roof would have solar panels and could either be slanted or flat, according to the designs.
Addressing traffic, headlight and noise concerns, Capt. Jay Lengfeld said the busiest shifts for officers are in the morning, which would reduce headlight glare, and siren testing will not be allowed.
Several in attendance said they hope the presence of a police station and squad cars would influence drivers on Mineral Point to slow down.
When it appeared funding for a Midtown station would not be included in the 2016 budget, some residents formed a grassroots campaign to boost the project. Dave Glomp, a longtime resident of Madison’s southwest side, helped lead the charge and he said he plans to continue.
“I haven’t put my pen and computer away yet, nor will I,” Glomp said.