My son and his Cub Scout troop took a tour of the new Police Station in Central Greenwich yesterday. What was the takeaway? It was that the police station was far nicer than our house.
Mind you, our house could use a few touchups here or there, but its a solid 160 year old place that we try to take the best of care with. Nonetheless, this house, or many of the solid unsold McMansions could barely compete with the splendor that we taxpayers have invested in a happy police force.
Some of the elan associated with the place include marble countertops, a dormitory that I would certainly like to live in, 17 cells, very well accomplished wood finishes including trimwork that I could easily say is the best of the best. For a Town of 60,000, we spent nearly $30 million on this building – and we already owned the land. Norwalk, by comparison, with 100,000 people and a heck of a larger crime problem, spent $10 million less and got just as much, in my estimation. But one observation that was made by everyone from the ages of 8-58 was just how empty it feels. The police station is just too big.
Now, I know most think this an old story. Its built, its done, don’t you respect the police department, didn;t I go over this in the 2007 election, I get the drift and yes, it is built and apart from subleasing the place, it will be there for my grandchildren no doubt.
The reason it is a story again is because of the drive to build a neighboring companion Fire Station. I clearly remember the to-do back in 2003 and 2004 when this thing got off the ground, this drive to build a “public safety complex”. The largest complaint came from people who accused then-First Selectman Jim Lash of having an “Edifice Complex”. This complex, which allegedly infects re-elected Chief Executives in communities worldwide, is the itchy disease to build something to prove to the future that You Were There. Fixing up buildings does not accomplish this – Mr. Lash had absolutely no interest in refurbishing the old station. It was New, or nothing.
The question I ask though,what is the pressing need? Police or firemen do not need to be in buildings to stop or deter crime, put out fires or get cats out of trees. Children need to be inside school buildings that are properly built or have proper facilities for things like music – that makes better citizens. Its not sexy, they never name these additions after people like Mr. Lash, but they do give more bang for the tighter and tighter buck, and personaly impact thousands of families.
You know, now that I think of it, there is plenty of room for the firemen to sublet over at the new building. The Jets did it for years in Giants Stadium, and eventually they built a new building together. Why not in Greenwich