Waukegan seeks funds to reconstruct, remediate police department
By Dan Moran email@example.com September 23, 2013 7:30PM
Waukegan Building Commissioner Dave Marion (left) and maintenance supervisor Bruce Kennedy inspect a ceiling that has two different sets of drop-panels that have been affected by corrosion over the years.| Dan Moran/Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 23, 2013 3:41AM
Describing working conditions in certain areas of Waukegan Police headquarters as “deplorable,” Mayor Wayne Moltey successfully lobbied the City Council this month to explore how much it would cost to renovate sections that include a basement with water-seepage and mold problems.
“I was embarrassed about it when I was working there as a police officer, and it’s gotten worse,” Motley said on Monday, Sept. 23, one week after the council agreed to seek requests for proposals for environmental remediation and reconstruction inside the West Street building.
“We have employees in there working in what I consider to be horrendous conditions,” said Motley, specifically mentioning officers in the investigations and juvenile divisions who have cubicles in the basement. “These are officers that I feel are in harm’s way in the basement of a bad, bad building. ... It’s a mess.”
Walking through that basement on Monday, Building Commissioner Dave Marion pointed to water stains on carpets and ceiling tiles, pipes that sweat and drip with condensation, and crumbling sections of brick that date to when one corner of the structure was a private residence a century ago.
Marion added that a particular problem is that “there is active mold in the building in this part of the building,” sections of which are used for storage and others that house some 25 police personnel in different shifts.
“Our goal is to get everybody moved out, and then we’ll start investigating the depth of it and clean it all out,” said Marion, adding that “once (the mold) was brought to our attention, we’ve taken immediate action.”
Still to be determined is exactly how much the mold removal and rehabilitation will cost. In 2010, the city issued $28 million in capital-improvement bonds to address needs that included renovations to facilities like the police department, which has sections that date to the 1980s, 1960s and earlier.
Among the planned expenditures in that capital package was $550,000 to install a new roof and heating and air-conditioning systems for the police department. While those repairs were completed, a report at the time noted that “a longer term plan may be developed to improve the overall working conditions” in the building.
According to Marion, there were concepts to renovate first-floor office space — which was used by municipal employees when the building also housed City Hall — and move the basement employees upstairs. Bids secured at that time ranged from $175,000 to $216,000, but capital funds eyed for construction had to be shifted to emergency road repairs.
The current plan includes getting those spaces finished, but the city will have to see what comes back from its request for proposals.
“It’s a lot of space and they have a good, solid plan. It’s just getting the funding,” Marion said. “We’ve identified the problem, and we are taking the necessary action to fix it. We’re doing the best we can.”
Motley said officers might have to be moved to the city’s police substation at 13 N. Genesee St. until a permanent solution is completed. He added that there’s no specific timetable on when renovation proposals might come forward.