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Dave Olson, Published December 02 2012

West Fargo reviewing police station options

WEST FARGO – The West Fargo Police Department soon will have 38 officers, and that number is expected to grow to about 80 in the next 20 years.

Police Chief Arland Rasmussen said department employees, who share a building with City Hall workers, are so crowded they are “sitting on top of each other,” and he endorses building a new police station.

“It’s really crowded,” Rasmussen said, referring to the current police station, which was remodeled in 1995, when Rasmussen became chief, and again in 2005, when minor expansion took place.

Rasmussen said he knew at the time of the last project that another would be needed within a few years, and in 2010, he began telling city officials: “We’re really growing.”

Monday night, the West Fargo City Commission will hear about four concepts for a new police station that were developed for the city by Zerr Berg Architects of Fargo.

All of the concepts anticipate a new building that would be constructed on city land located just east of the current City Hall.

The plans also call for remodeling the current police station space to accommodate City Hall workers, who, according to Rasmussen, also are cramped for space.

The four options and approximate potential costs include:

• A three-story building with a ground-level parking garage – $7.6 million.

• A two-story building with a ground-level parking garage – $7.2 million.

• A one-story building (a second story could be added in the future) with a basement and an underground parking garage – $7.2 million ($8.2 million if second story also is built).

• A one-story structure (a second story can be added in the future) and a ground-level parking garage – $6.1 million ($7.2 million if second story also is built).

The fourth option is favored by Rasmussen and City Administrator James Brownlee.

Rasmussen said a single-floor layout is more likely to promote efficiency and interdepartmental communication than one that incorporates a second story.

Brownlee said if the City Commission decides to move on a project, the city will invite architectural firms to submit proposals.

He said it is possible ground could be broken by the middle of 2013, with construction taking about a year.

Rasmussen said he’s confident a police station project will last the city for the next 15 to 20 years, but added that, as in the past, West Fargo’s needs always are changing.

“Twenty years come and go pretty fast,” Rasmussen said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555