Police station bids surprise Ocean View

When Ocean View town officials opened the six proposed bids to construct the town’s new Police station, their jaws might have hit the floor.

After estimating the construction cost for the approved 15,000-square-foot station at as much as $4 million, the highest of six bids only came in at roughly half that amount.

Southern Builders offered the high bid, at about $2.3 million, and Willow Construction offered the lowest — although it wasn’t much less expensive — at $1.97 million.

“It was obviously a very pleasant surprise,” Ocean View Councilman Bill Wichmann said of the bid submissions. “I was very happy.”

Miken Builders, Kent Construction, Brandywine Contractors and Bancroft proposed the other four bids, all of which only differed from each other by $50,000 to $200,000.

Wichmann said that the town’s engineer, along with its attorney, will talk to the lowest bidder and review their submission to make sure there aren’t any mistakes in the estimated cost. After that process, if everything is found to be in order, those town officials should be ready to make a recommendation to council by its March meeting.

Council will then award the bid and start construction on the large replacement station on Central Avenue, just north of Bear Trap Dunes, sometime this spring — likely sometime in April or May, Wichmann said.

Construction should take about one year, he noted, and the Ocean View Police should be able to move into their new station by the summer of 2007.

Until then, the current eight-officer force will remain housed in a triple-wide trailer just off Central Avenue, directly behind where the new station will be constructed. Although the temporary location is bigger and better than the department’s former location near town hall, there are still safety issues there, too, Ocean View Police Chief Kenneth McLaughlin said.

The department’s secretary still sits only feet away from where the officers process the prisoners, and the holding room is not much of a room at all. Hardly the size of a bathroom, the room offers a bench where the department’s officers handcuff prisoners while they are being processed, as well as a table with a laptop, but not much more.

“This is 100 percent better than what we had,” McLaughlin said as he toured the temporary office. “But it’s not a police station.”

None of those problems should arise at the new station, the plans for which date back to early 2003. Wichmann and McLaughlin presented the blueprint for the two-story station to Ocean View Town Council for the first time in May of 2004.

Each of the floors totals 7,500 square feet — the biggest footprint allowed on the one-acre parcel on which the station will be built.

On the first floor, there will be separate cells for male, female and juvenile inmates, plus an “intoxilizer” room, a scanner room and a another room with a video phone so Ocean View’s officers can process criminal suspects without driving to the court in Georgetown.

There will also be an office for the police chief, the department’s sergeant, a secretary, a detective and a superintendent. They will be located on the ground floor, along with a storage garage and evidence, interview and victim services’ rooms.

Also on the first floor, there will be break and squad rooms for the department’s current eight-member force.

Upstairs, there will be a workout area and men’s and women’s locker rooms. But most of the second floor’s 7,500 square feet will be left unused at the beginning, in anticipation of the town’s future growth.

“We’re not building it for 2006,” McLaughlin said, adding that he expects the new building to last up to 40 years. “We’re building it for 2026. If we build for tomorrow at today’s prices, we’ll be doing the town a service. We’ll have room to grow for a long time.”