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Ballwin moves step closer to new police facility

The entire Dec. 9 Ballwin Board of Aldermen meeting lasted just 25 minutes. Roughly half that time centered on police matters.

After the usual roll call and Pledge of Allegiance, the previous meeting minutes were quickly acknowledged and approved. That set the stage for the formal swearing-in of new Chief of Police Douglas Schaeffler.

There was just a handful of minutes spent on approval of the 2020 budget, a trio of bills [North Pointe facility rental fee increases, operating budget and capital budget] that became ordinances 19-36, 37 and 38; and a pair of Parks and Recreation Department consent items [fitness equipment purchase and golf pond dredging] that swiftly passed unanimously.

That’s when the focus shifted right back to the police department during the city administrator’s report.

“The only item I have on the agenda is consistent with the board direction on receiving and recommending a proposal for the further assessment of the two sites that the board had narrowed down for the future police facility,” said City Administrator Bob Kuntz.

“Hopefully, in the course of this more detailed investigation, you’ll have additional information that will enable you to make a decision. Fortunately, we’ll have the chief as part of that process now. I’m pleased that the timing is falling together, and we hope to have the report back to you with pros, cons, costs and alternatives by, I’m going to say, the first week in February at the latest.”

Kuntz added that he was still very much in communication with Regions Bank. That proposed police building site, in the “backyard” of the 14915 Manchester Road location, would require land acquisition and street modifications and would also include new construction on Kehrs Mill Bend Court.

The second remaining option for the new police facility would be the renovation and expansion of Ballwin’s former government building at the entrance of Vlasis Park.

“So, this proposal is $17,500 to evaluate both sites?” asked Alderman Kevin Roach [Ward 2]. “Is there still enough support on the board for both sites to evaluate both? Or do we want to narrow it down to one site? Maybe it would be cheaper if we only evaluate one site of theirs.”

But Alderman Frank Fleming [Ward 3] stated that, after previously scratching one site off his list, he was not willing to remove another at this point in the process.

“I would have to agree,” said Aldermen Mark Stallmann [Ward 2]. “I think these two are the consensus sites and I’d like to know the costs, problems and pluses of these sites that JEMA sees.”

JEMA, a St. Louis-based planning and design firm first presented the board with four choices back at its Sept. 23 meeting. On Oct. 14, JEMA architectural consultants John Mueller and Jon Emert returned before the board after it had eliminated the sand volleyball site and existing police facility as possibilities for new construction and/or renovations.

“I’ve asked them [JEMA] to do more than just some number crunching,” Kuntz said. “I’ve asked them to really critically evaluate the life-cycle costing, the cost benefits of some of the intangibles because this is a building we’re going to have to live with for 30 some years.

“So, you want to make it the best choice you can make it with the best place you can put it for both the officers’ safety as well as the community. And all that I asked to be included in the report with no holds barred. So, you’ll have everything you need so when you have this next meeting, it’s A or B that we’ll go with.”

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