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Clear Progress On Cop Shop
Work is now progressing at a fairly rapid pace for the new Escalon Police Department facility on McHenry Avenue, with several different subcontracting crews on the job.

"We're right on schedule," said Steve Santos, foreman for the general contractor, S.W. Allen out of Sacramento. "We should be done by mid-September."

Though work began during the winter months, weather was never really much of a factor because the shell of the building was already up so the bulk of the work was being done inside. The last of the framing for the various rooms in the roughly 8,000-square foot building is being done now.

The police department will move in to the structure once it is complete and this will be the first of two new buildings for the city. The police site is at 2040 McHenry and the new City Hall and associated city departments will be next door, at 2060 McHenry. That work, however, isn't anticipated for at least a couple of years.

When bids for the project came in too high the first time around, officials broke the project into separate parts for the police department and city hall facilities, seeking bids on them individually as well as together. Council members opted to just finance the police department construction at this time.

"It's going good so far, with very few setbacks," said Escalon's Senior Engineering Tech Dave Ruby, who is serving as the project manager for the city. "We're really pleased with who we hired to do the job and the building is just coming along great."

The building shells were put up by Greer Construction about five years ago and the site at 2080 McHenry previously served as Greer's corporate offices and currently houses the Escalon Health Center. The city went ahead with the purchase of the 2040 and 2060 lots, with the shells on them, to relocate all city departments over the next few years. The only department that will remain situated in the downtown area is Public Works, which already has a corporation yard established there. Other departments have outgrown their locations and, in the police department specifically, new dispatching equipment will be coming in soon and added space will be needed to house that updated equipment.

Ruby said there was one unique thing about the building; there had to be some retrofitting done because the public safety requirement for police departments - based on the building code - is one-and-a-half times stronger than for a regular office building.

That's because the facility is deemed an 'essential structure' and needs the added protection.

Ruby said progress is now tangible on the inside, with about half of the lower level framework done, half of the heating and air conditioning work complete, electrical, plumbing and roofing work progressing as well.

"Out of doors, everything is complete or nearly complete, everything but the ornamental pavers," Ruby said.

There are about six subcontractors working on various parts of the project, and roughly two dozen workers are on site on a daily basis, helping bring the project to completion.

The new building will include storage space upstairs, new locker rooms and showers for men and women officers, jail cells, an expanded evidence storage area, break room, an electrical room to house all needed equipment and even a training and emergency operations center room, which will serve as the city's EOC in case of regional or national emergency.

"This would be the nucleus of the recovery effort," Ruby said.

Construction estimates for the facility are around $2 million and Ruby said so far, costs are running true to that figure.

And even though the other city departments will remain in the downtown area a few more years before making the move to McHenry, Ruby said it still made sense for the city to buy both lots and building shells when the opportunity arose.

"Where else are you going to find two such nice looking buildings in the same spot? It's still a win-win for the city and the citizens of Escalon."