WAXHAW – Officers with the Waxhaw Police Department will soon move into their new home at 3620 Providence Road S. after months of renovations to the new facility.
“This is bigger than what we need, but this will take us into the future. We are making good use of a lot of the space,” Waxhaw Police Department Chief Michael Eiss said. “I think we thought of just about everything we could think of, and I think this is something the town can really be proud of.”
The town purchased the building, which previously was a shell space after construction halted in 2007, for about $3.5 million. The town’s contract with Edifice, the construction company hired to do the renovations, stated the project would be completed with a cost of, not to exceed, about $3.3 million, which included a contingency for $96,928 for possible change orders.
Edifice and the town approved $417,449 in change orders as of April 29, which is a 13 percent increase, not including change orders funded through the contingency originally agreed upon. The board of commissioners only has to approve change orders exceeding $20,000, according to Town Manager Mike McLaurin, which included construction of a temporary parking lot at the future location of town hall and some security changes the town decided to move forward with after the signing of the contract with Edifice.
The town also paid $171,586 to Creech and Associates for the architectural design of the facility, $141,611 for furniture and kitchen appliances, $38,810 in attorney fees and $38,865 for public art, in addition to some other costs, according to Ann Sutton, the town’s tax collector.
The town initially planned to install internal security measures, but after talking with other parties decided it was best to have Edifice install all security elements, internal and external.
“Originally we were going to handle the internal security. … We felt that that was a risky thing, so we wanted to have one group set up all of the security hardware,” McLaurin said.
The additional work and materials needed to install the internal security cost an additional $264,611.
Other additional work or change orders included some deficiencies found once Edifice began working on the facility, like improving some fireproofing measures; the removal of an oak tree on the property, which was then used to create many tables and plaques throughout the facility; replacing some bad soil; and other minor changes.
But although the nearly 27,000-square-foot facility is too large for today’s department, which currently has 26 officers, Eiss said the facility should carry the Waxhaw Police Department into the next 50 years as the department grows along with the population in town. Officers have already seen an increase in calls throughout town, a trend Eiss expects to see continue. Some projections show the town growing to 50,000 residents within the next 20 to 25 years.
“Up to 2006, the last homicide (Waxhaw) had here was 20 years ago, and since then we have had two of them and they were in the same year,” he said. “Most of the crime we have comes from outside, people from Charlotte coming here for break-ins and that stuff. Our call volume is picking up steadily.”
The additional space also will allow the department to utilize equipment it currently doesn’t have space for in the shopping center police have up to now called home. One such item is new shooting simulator software to help better prepare officers for a crisis, like those seen recently at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
“We have this laser thing you can put in the middle of a building and it will map out the whole building,” Eiss said. “I can put that in the middle of Waxhaw Elementary School and it will print it out in 3D, so I can bring it in (to the new department) and upload it and it will make it like you’re in the school.”
The department received the shooting simulator with the help of a $70,000 grant to help officers better prepare. Officers also will receive more benefits from the software, as opposed to a shooting range, where they will be able to practice with moving objects, Eiss added.
The Waxhaw Police Department will have a grand opening celebration on May 16 at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.