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Auburn Police Department

The Auburn Police Department building on North Street.

Though Auburn officials still hope to eventually relocate the city's fire and police departments into a new, more modern complex, plans are underway to give the police station a more immediate makeover.

The project, proposed by Auburn Police Chief Shawn Butler and APD senior management, calls for department-wide renovations, particularly to the North Street station's command center, public lobby and processing rooms.

Each of those areas are in poor condition after years of continuous use, Butler said. Further, the chief said there have been times when arrested individuals have been brought through the public lobby for processing, opening possible interaction between the public — including victims that may be present — and defendants.

While that scenario has existed "for a long time," Butler calls the current setup a safety concern that the APD hopes to address with the proposed project, along with other aesthetic concerns.

Butler said the current design proposes to install a secure entryway at the rear of the station, off the eastbound Arterial, into the processing areas. Design services have been provided by Syracuse firm QPK Design with an estimated cost of approximately $12,900, according to the chief.

Auburn Deputy Chief Roger Anthony will review the schematic during Thursday's Auburn City Council meeting.

Butler said he plans to fund the project using proceeds from drug seizure operations, whether they are from the APD's local drug seizure account or through allocations from the federal Asset Forfeiture Program. 

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As for a timeline, the chief hopes to start work in the spring as long as the APD gets approval from the Auburn City Council. He said a total cost estimate is still being calculated.

"It only seems fair to the public and to our people that we benefit them with this money and that's what we intend to do," the chief said.

APD's proposal comes at a point when city officials have considered relocating the police and fire stations due to the age of their shared structure, which was built in the early 1930s. Among the structural concerns, cracks have formed in the fire department's floor under the weight of modern firetrucks.

Available funding is a factor in the possibility of a new public safety complex. After applying in the summer for grant funding through the state Consolidated Funding Application program, officials expect a response by late December.

City Manager Jeff Dygert said city staff will need to reevaluate if Auburn is not successful with the grant. Accordingly, Auburn officials included a multimillion-dollar rehabilitation of the entire fire and police station in the city's five-year capital improvement plan.

"We've got to try to do what we can to make the best of what our situation is and be fiscally responsible, but in the end for the amount of money spent, it sounds like a new facility would be fiscally prudent," he said. "But if we can't get that big chunk of change, we're going to have to look at what we can do in the scope of our existing budget."

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Staff writer Greg Mason can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or greg.mason@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenMason.

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