Thursday, April 01, 1999

Bank building to house police

Norwood buying empty PNC branch

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NORWOOD — Bank on this: Much of the Norwood Police Division will be in new digs next year.

        “I've been waiting for this for 33 years,” said veteran Police Capt. Tom Williams, who is acting police chief. “Our department will be visible — right on Montgomery Road — not in the rear of the City Hall anymore.”

        Mayor Joe Hochbein said Wednesday the city is buying a vacant PNC Bank branch on Montgomery Road to house much of the city's police division. The building is north of and across Elm Avenue from City Hall. It is next to the city's fire department headquarters.

        “We are buying the building for $275,000 and plan an expansion to the rear of it. The total project will be about $1.7 million,” the mayor said. “The facility will house our patrol unit and administrative offices. There also will be an area where mayor's court will be located.”

        Police and jail facilities have been in the same City Hall space since 1915, when the building was constructed.

        The move shelves a more ambitious proposal suggested last year that would have required voter approval of a bond issue to finance $3.2 million to $4 million for a new police facility. The city had considered buying and razing a building just south of City Hall to make way for a new two-story police building and jail.

        Three new prisoner holding cells plus a detainment facility for drunken drivers are planned in the bank-building expansion. Cells in the existing jail at the rear of City Hall will remain available for overflow use.

        The existing police department space will be renovated for use by the detectives in the department's criminal investigation section. Also, the emergency communications and dispatch center will move from the City Hall basement into space vacated by the patrol unit, the mayor said. Communications equipment was upgraded last year.

        Capt. Williams said a group including nine police officers and other city officials studied the proposal

        “This is going to be a much better atmosphere for all of us ... to do the work we perform. And it is going to put us out there where we can be seen. Officers, who do the work daily, were involved in planning since the project first came up,” the captain said.

        Police are also involved in helping plan the architectural design of the expansion plus the renovations, he said.

        Jack Cameron, the city's chief projects coordinator, said the PNC building has been vacant since July.

        Police could move into the new facility as early as next spring, but more likely by summer, he said. It will be 5,482 square feet, including the 1,572-square-foot addition and 836 square feet of basement storage and mechanical space.


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