Kent City Councilman John Kuhar made the suggestion at Wednesday's council meeting that city officials review the idea of using part of the close to 18 acre property for a new police building.
"We would not be displacing anybody," Kuhar said. "We own it, so we would not have to buy the real estate, and it’s centrally located. The savings would be tremendous."
City officials have been trying to determine how to replace the aging police station after voters denied a proposed 0.25 percent income tax hike, placed on the November ballot, that would have paid to build a new police station.
Preliminary recommendations were to demolish the existing station and construct the new building within the block bordered by Haymaker Parkway, Summit, South DePeyster and South Water streets — where the existing station stands.
Council agreed in July 2011 to buy the former manufacturing site at 800 Mogadore Road from owner Thomas & Betts Corp., of Memphis, TN, for $1. The deal included an agreement that the city would partner with Thomas & Betts to determine the cause of increasingly contaminated groundwater at the property.
Kuhar said the bare lot would save the city from having to demolish several buildings, relocate existing businesses and buy land to build a new police station in the same block where the department is now.
"It just seems like it’s a practical way to go … and maybe more palatable for the residents of the city because the cost would be (lower)," Kuhar said.
City officials estimated the cost to build a new police department at the existing location would be $18.36 million.
It's unclear exactly how much it would cost to build a new station at the RB&W property.
Repairs to the leaking chemical containment system are expected to start this year. Final remediation efforts could be finished by the end of 2013.
Council voted to have city administrators examine the issue and present it for discussion at a future council committee meeting. Council members Heidi Shaffer and Roger Sidoti voted against studying Kuhar's proposal.
Shaffer argued the land would be more valuable if it were saved for future redevelopment as commercial or industrial property. In the past, city and Kent State University administrators have proposed building a technology park in that area of the city that would include the former RB&W property.
"We’re talking about bringing jobs to Kent … That’s valuable land for industrial/commercial usage," Shaffer said.
Councilwoman Tracy Wallach said the idea is at least worth talking about.
"We’re just taking a look at it," Wallach said. "We’re not saying we’re going to put it there."