The new Wood River police station, seen here in an artist’s rendering, will be about 20,000 square feet, compared to the current 2,500 square feet that houses the police headquarters.
WOOD RIVER — Construction on a new home for the city’s boys in blue remains held up by bureaucratic red tape.
Ground has yet to be broken on the new Wood River Police Department building as city officials continue to go back and forth with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency regarding regulations for the new station and the ground on which it will be built. Wood River Police Chief Otis Steward updated the City Council on the situation at Monday’s meeting, saying he and City Manager Jim Schneider continue to talk with the EPA and oil company BP, which has donated the land and the money for the new $7.8 million facility, every few weeks regarding the status of the project.
“Because it’s refinery property, there’s certain regulations through the EPA that we need to make sure that we’re following because we’re going to be using property that was at one point a refinery,” Steward said after the meeting. “So, as we go along we’re finding little things that we submit to the EPA, then they reference that, because it’s old refinery property, it has to meet different standards. We’re hoping that we’re at the last stage — this is the last thing that we know of that they’ve not OK’d so far.”
Once they are finally cleared to go out for bids on construction, the project will be nearly a year behind the original timeline laid out last year. Wood River officials received construction documents at the end of October, and Steward said at the time that they hoped to break ground on the building, which will be built at the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Illinois 143, last December.
In February, the holdup related to the vapor barrier to be built under the new station. Because the facility is being built on the oil company’s land, a thicker vapor barrier, which is used to prevent water vapor and contaminants from migrating into the foundation of the building, was necessitated by the EPA.
Once the present hurdles are cleared, Steward said the city will still have to give a 60-day public notice before going out for bid. The public notice, and subsequent public hearing, are required as part of the federal EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act governing the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste materials.
“Once that’s done, we’ve got all the bidding stuff ready to go,” Steward said.
The delayed timeline won’t have any negative effects on the department or its citizens, though. Steward said his office and the investigations department will continue to work out of the former Regions Bank location across from City Hall until the new building is complete. He also said the city has received assurances from BP that the money will still be there when they’re ready to move forward with the project.
With the delays earlier this year, Steward still held out hope that the new station would be done and ready for use some time in 2017. With an estimated 14-month construction process, though, a 2018 opening appears more likely.