New home for Wilton police department moves one step closer to reality

WILTON — The town is one step away from gaining the approvals needed to build a new police station after the Planning & Zoning Commission reviewed plans for the proposed $16.4 million project.

Commission members debated the proposal to construct a 19,000-square-foot headquarters, which would be nearly twice the size of the town’s current police station.

The discussion came during a virtual public hearing at a P&Z meeting on Feb. 27. Ultimately, the commission voted unanimously to close the public hearing and move the project forward for a final vote at a future meeting.

It recommended two conditions for the police station: that the north side of the building be brick and fencing be installed near the transformers.

“The town is one step closer to a police station,” Chair Rick Tomasetti said after the votes.

The new police facility would be built on an 11.17-acre site at 238-240 Danbury Road.

If the final approval comes as expected, the town of Wilton could break ground on the project as soon as late May or early June, officials said. Construction is expected to take about 20 months.

At the meeting, the floor plans, site improvements and architectural drawings were presented by Rebecca Hopkins of Tecton Architects. Joe Lenahan of Fuss and O’Neill, the project’s engineers, explained how use of the new building would be phased in, with police occupying the new building before the old building was razed.

During the public hearing, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice noted that the project was more than six years in the making. It was approved by voters last May in a townwide referendum, with 77 percent of the vote in favor in its first attempt, showing the broad public support, she said.

Jack Suchy, a Wilton resident who serves on the Police Building Committee, said the new building would function much better than the existing one.

“Don’t add more money to this project,” Suchy, a retired Norwalk police officer, told the P&Z Commission.

Christopher Burney, director of planning, design & construction for Wilton, said he was impressed with Tecton’s work on the plans.

“The design team has worked closely with the Wilton Police Department to put a project together that we believe meets the needs of the department for generations to come,” Burney said previously.

After the project gains P&Z approval, the town will finalize the bid documents and put the project out to bid, Burney said.

The current two-story station was built in 1974 for a 25-member all-male force.

“Since the station was built, the size of the department has almost doubled, leading to overcrowding and a loss of operational and functional space,” according to the 236-page special permit application submitted to the P&Z.

Police Chief Thomas Conlan said the department now has 48 employees — 45 officers and three civilian staff — including eight women.

The new building “will bring the department up to current policing and building code standards,” he said previously. “A new police facility will have a tremendous benefit to the department, as well as the town.”

This story includes prior reporting by Jarret Liotta.

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