Waxhaw begins renovations on new police department

WAXHAW – Crews began renovations on the new police department facility at 3620 Providence Road S. with a groundbreaking ceremony last weekend.

Commissioners recently approved plans for the building, which cost about $3.5 million to purchase and $3.6 million to renovate.  Although the costs may seem high to some, Town Manager Mike McLaurin said building an adequate facility would have been well over the current cost to renovate the building.

The new 26,000-square-foot facility will give the department more space than it currently has and still allows room for the department to grow.  A recent space-needs assessment showed the Waxhaw Police Department needs 18,000 square feet to fulfill its daily needs.  All additional space will be used for storage until the department needs to expand.

“This facility should take us into the next 50 years, and it was cheaper than building an 18,000-square-foot building from the ground up,” Michael Eiss, Waxhaw’s police chief, said.

The department currently has to outsource some evidence analysis, but after officers move into the new facility they will have the necessary equipment to carry out all investigative procedures.  The new facility also will have space for the police department to provide training for their officers and other organizations.

“A lot of the equipment that we have not been able to have, we will have room for it now,” Eiss said.

The facility currently occupied by the police department is in a shopping center and doesn’t have space for simple necessities, such as lockers for officers.

“We have 20 something officers – they don’t have lockers.  One thing that’s really important for a police department is property control, and we don’t have that.  We don’t have a sally port, for when you bring a prisoner in,” McLaurin said in an interview with Union County Weekly in July.

After renovations are complete, there will be separate entrances for suspects and other people visiting the department, as well as a lot to store cars and other large property seized by police.

Aside from being able to carry out investigative services on their own, officers also are excited to finally have a place to call home – something the Waxhaw Police Department has yet to have.

“It will be 125 years next year when we move into it that this department has not had a permanent home, and we are finally getting there,” Eiss said.

The department does not plan on hiring any new officers when moving into the new facility, but Eiss said it could be a possibility in the future as the population in town continues to grow.

The town borrowed $6.5 million from SunTrust Bank to fund the acquisition and renovation of the new facility through a 15-year loan.

Commissioners also are working on the final plans for the new town hall facility in the historic downtown area.  The two-story building will consist of a mix of retail development and town offices, with a majority of retail on the first floor.  A cost estimate for the renovations in the town hall have not been set, but town leaders have been in discussions with a developer about possible design options.

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