New police station tabled because of economy
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – Commissioners announced Monday they will not seek a bond referendum in November to fund construction of a new police station, citing the still sagging economy.
Commissioner Sarah McAulay said she had spoken with the other members of the board and they agreed: Now is not the time for a bond that would raise taxes.
The move came as a surprise to most, as the bond hadn’t been a point of contention among board members.
Even Huntersville Police Chief Phil Potter said he was unaware of the decision until a few minutes before the Monday, June 20, meeting.
“Myself and the department are disappointed in this development, but we accept the decision of the town board in this matter,” he said Wednesday. “I’m sure they’ll be moving forward for an alternative plan, and we’ll ... make due with what we have at this time.”
In her prepared statement, McAulay said the board supports the nearly $16 million facility, but the issue is timing. This is the third consecutive year the board has talked of building the desperately needed police station with, ultimately, no action. Each time, the economy was cited as the reason.
This decision has no real impact on the town’s ability to hold a referendum later.
What could change, however, is the site of the future police station.
During its retreat in February, the board came to a 4-1 consensus to build the new police station at the 32-acre Anchor Mill site on North Church Street.
McAulay and Mayor Jill Swain opposed that site because they believe the land could become valuable for private development after the Red Line commuter train arrives.
By delaying the decision, the board, which will have at least three new members after November’s election, could choose a different site.
Police officers are crammed into their current Gilead Road headquarters. The town purchased the former Webb & Allen Orthodontics building next door, and police officials are moving some non-emergency personnel there now. That doesn’t fully address the needs, Potter said, and he said safety of officers remains a concern. On several occasions this week, police had to hold multiple violent felony suspects in the hallways, Potter said.
“It’s definitely something we’re very concerned about,” he said. “I hope that there will be a solution very soon, but short of a new facility there isn’t much more we can do.”