Two major building projects in the works in Chester New police station, senior recreation center expected as soon as this fall
Photos by Erika Norton
The Mobile Life ambulance building will become the new headquarters for the Town of Chester police.
BY ERIKA NORTON CHESTER —The Town of Chester Police will be getting a new headquarters fit for a full-time force, and senior citizens will get a recreation center. If all goes well, they'll be done by fall. The town will receive money from Orange County and NYS Senator Bill Larkin’s office to help pay for the senior center and police station. “We’re hoping to get close to $500,000 in grant money, thinking that the building is probably going to cost us somewhere around $800,000,” Jamieson said. “So the $300,000 difference is just something that the town will have to bond.” More room for the policeUp until now, the police department has operated out of the basement of the town hall on Kings Highway, a space meant for a part-time operation. Police Chief Dan Doellinger says the space has no holding cells for prisoners, a booking area that lacks security and privacy, a maxed-out locker room, closets turned into offices, and weapons and ammunition stored in a hallway. The new headquarters will be located in the building currently used by Mobile Life Ambulance at 79 Laroe Road. The building is being remodeled to accommodate the entire staff of the police department 18 officers and two administrative clerks — which has been full-time department since 2007. “Right now we’re just in a set of offices in the basement of the town hall that was retrofitted to become a police station, but it wasn’t really designed as a police station,” Doellinger said. “So we're going to have a lot more safety and security features than we have now.” Currently, three sergeants and two detectives share one office that is about 150 square feet. The entire department uses 1,500 square feet. The new facility will be about 4,300 square feet, almost three times the space of the current location. “Right now there’s times, especially at shift change, where officers have to wait until another officer is done to get space at a desk to finish up a report,” Doellinger said. "And that’s not going to be the case over there.” The new headquarters will include: Holding cells Two interview rooms A more secure booking area A training room A larger evidence room More lockers The two interview rooms will allow multiple interviews simultaneously. The training room will allow the department to conduct training sessions on their own schedule, as opposed to when the building is available. A shower will allow officers exposed to unsanitary conditions on the job to wash up before returning to their families. “It just makes sense," Chester Town Supervisor Alex Jamieson said about the move. “And Mobile Life was only using about 15 to 20 percent of that building, so most of that building wasn't being used.” Most of the work on the $1.85 million project involves adding a second floor for offices in the ambulance building, Jamieson said. The framing of the interior offices has already begun, he said. The roof of the ambulance bay will be raised and a second floor added, he said. More activity expected at new senior centerThe second major project is the senior citizen center and recreational facility, which Jamieson has been talking up for years. It will be built in the Chester Commons Park behind the new police headquarters. Jamieson said the latest plan is a 4,000-square-foot hall with a couple of bathrooms and an office, a much smaller project than the original plan. Seniors in Chester have seen the plan and approve overall, he said, but they will likely make a few adjustments after hearing seniors weigh in on the plan. Jamieson hopes to run some programs for adults at the new senior center similar to what Goshen does with its own senior center, with a monthly calendar of classes and activities. Jamieson said he hopes both buildings done are by September or October, maybe even in time for the police department's Touch a Truck event.