Southold Town picks next door for new police station and court

After years of searching, Southold Town has finally selected a site for a new police station and Justice Court building.

At its last meeting on Sept. 26, the Town Board approved a budget modification of $525,000 to move forward with the purchase of 3.47 acres of property at 41625 Main Road in Peconic for the new facilities. The site is just west of the current police station.

The project includes constructing a new police station at the back of the new property, tearing down the current police building and erecting a new Justice Court in its place, according to Town Board member Jill Doherty. To the east, there will also be a new entrance to the North Fork Animal Welfare League’s animal shelter, providing access from Main Road so community members don’t have to drive through the town’s highway department yard, she added.

“The current police building was built in the 1950s and in many ways is structurally unsound,” Ms. Doherty said. “Bringing our police station into the 21st century will benefit public safety as a whole in Southold Town.”

The project will take at least five years to complete, according to town engineer Michael Collins. He said there are many advantages to the location. Mr. Collins is currently drafting a request for proposals for architectural firms to begin the design process. He plans to send the RFP out in one to two weeks.

“This is head and shoulders above any other location that we considered. This will work best for us,” Mr. Collins told board members at the Sept. 26 meeting. “One of the main advantages is that everything else we looked at was a retrofit to an existing building — at least for the court. It just won’t work; there isn’t a building that will work for that purpose.

“For the police department, it’s going to be such a large upgrade that the advantages of having it right there where they already have their operations…everything being co-located like that allows us to build these two facilities next to each other with adequate space and keeps them on what’s already town property,” Mr. Collins said. “And then this allows us to take advantage of the septic flow. We have a large amount of septic flow available on that particular property — we don’t have enough to serve these two facilities [separately]. By mating the two we can now take some of that credit and don’t have to make other concessions on the size of the building.”

Supervisor Scott Russell said another benefit to the location is that the town’s communication infrastructure is also there.

“It’s not just cost of building; it’s the cost of not building, too, that you have to factor into the equation,” Mr. Russell said at the work session.

The benefits of this new construction are twofold, as it will also help the town police department get accreditation, something it has been working toward for a while according to Police Chief Martin Flatley.

To become accredited in New York State, the department must prove that it can meet the standards established by NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services for Law Enforcement agencies in the state.

Chief Flatley said that through the department’s work with their new policy manual, which was updated last summer, many of the required standards have already been satisfied. However, the department still has to complete the process of being evaluated by NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services. 

“A new building would give us the room we need to comply with several standards for the NYS accreditation such as our property and evidence rooms, interview and interrogation rooms and the video and audio recording that comes with them,” Mr. Flatley said. “We simply do not have the space for these required mandates in our current 50-plus-year-old building.”

While the town has given previous estimates on how much this project would cost, Mr. Collins said that he’d rather reserve revised cost estimates for when the design process is more mature.

“Over the course of the last few years we developed some gross estimates of what the project would be. But to be perfectly honest, at this point, I’m not comfortable giving numbers simply because now we’re entering into the design process,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve built one of these facilities in the town and it’s the design process that’s going to dictate the final requirements. So it’s possible that initially we over- or underestimated certain parts of the project because it was too preliminary. So all I can really [share] is that we’ve budgeted a million dollars for engineering, design and permitting.”

The property belonged to Peconic resident Scott DeSimone. Mr. Russell said Mr. DeSimone negotiated with the town in good faith for the property.

“He wanted to be fair to the taxpayers and he also wanted to make sure he got a fair price, which made negotiating quite good and amicable,” Mr. Russell said. 

The town hasn’t closed on the purchase of the property just yet but hopes to do so by the end of the year, according to Ms. Doherty.