Work begins on converting fire station to police station
Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Lehighton Borough manager John C. Wagner, in red shirt, hosts construction meeting at the Station 2 building of Lehighton Fire Department where a new police station is being constructed. New lighting will be added to the breezeway of the station, where police will likely park when they bring a suspect to the station for questioning or processing. The new police station is expected to be occupied in August.
Already there's one obvious sign that a new police station is being built in Lehighton.
A jail cell or holding cell, as is the more politically correct term has been installed.
The police station is being built on the first floor of Station 2, the former Engine Company No. 2 building, of the Lehighton Fire Department. It is located in the 100 block of South Third Street.
The garage of Station 2 will still by used by the fire company for housing fire apparatus, although the fire department is planning to eventually construct a new fire station.
Besides the new holding cell, various phases of construction are evident including the installation of office partitions, partial removal of drywall, and old electrical lighting fixtures are removed.
Yesterday, a construction meeting was held at the project site. Headed by Lehighton Borough manager John C. Wagner, all contractors involved gave him and Lehighton work foreman Lonnie Armbruster an update on how work is progressing.
The work is scheduled to be completed in August. Wagner said he initially hoped to have the project done by April, but he wasn't aware that the door for the holding cell had to be ordered special and there was a waiting period for it.
The door has arrived and it has been installed by the general contractor, F. J. Lesher of Palmerton. Fred Lesher Sr., of the Lesher firm, said the door and the key for it arrived separately.
The combined bids for the police station project total $261,968. Discussion yesterday indicated the cost might rise slightly from change orders, with the addition of a more energy-efficient heating system, lighting to the rear of the structure, and lighting in the breezeway. Armbruster pointed out that there will be a parking lot at the rear of the structure and no provisions were made for lighting.
On Thursday, bids will be opened for a fencing area around the rear of the building. The contract for the fence is expected to be awarded when Lehighton Borough Council meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25.
The contractors for the project are:
F. J. Lesher, Palmerton general construction.
S & K Construction, Tobyhanna plumbing.
L & S Electric, Lehighton HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) and electric.
When the new police station is completed, it will be named in honor of the late Wilbur A. "Cap" Bauchspies, who died last May 13 at the age of 81 while serving as a member of borough council. He had been mayor for 28 years beginning in 1969, and served on the council for 14 years.
The mayor is in charge of the police department.
His wife, Bessie, is currently on the borough council.
The present police station is located in the Lehighton Municipal Building. A study in 2004 showed Lehighton police had less square footage than most other police departments in the area.
The study at that time showed the Lehighton Police Department, with eight full-time officers, had 805 square feet of station space. Palmerton, which also had eight full-time police officers at the time, had 3,280 square feet of station space. Jim Thorpe, with six full-time officers, had 3,016 square feet of space, and Slatington Police, with six full-time officers, had 4,140 square feet of station space.
The police department has expressed concern to the council that the tight quarters in the existing station could make for dangerous situations when suspects are questioned or brought in for processing.