Bethesda police station plans move forward -- Gazette.Net


A replacement for the Montgomery County Police Department’s station in downtown Bethesda could be finished by 2016, although the plan still needs to clear some hurdles before it’s approved.

The design process for a new station in the 4800 block of Rugby Avenue could begin in January. The facility would replace the 52-year-old home of the police department’s Second District in the 7500 block of Wisconsin Avenue, a member of the county’s Department of General Services told the county’s Public Safety and Government Operations and Fiscal Policy committees Tuesday.

“We think we have a winner,” General Services Deputy Director Greg Ossont told the council members.

Previous plans for a new station have had to be scuttled after various difficulties arose.

A new station had originally been planned at the corner of Cordell and Wisconsin avenues, but the deal fell through in November 2012 when developer JBG Cos. backed out of a land swap arrangement after it was unable to obtain all the land it needed.

Councilman Phil Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg said the current plan seems to have fewer variables attached to it than previous efforts.

The cost for the new station hasn’t been finalized, but the county is budgeted to pay $9.25 million for the project, including planning, design and supervision costs, a payment to the developer and for furniture and equipment for the new building.

The county will also turn over ownership of the current station, estimated at $8.7 million, to the developer for the project, Bethesda-based StonebridgeCarras.

The department has outgrown the current station, Assistant Police Chief Darryl McSwain said.

The Second District serves Bethesda, Chevy Chase and parts of Potomac and Silver Spring.

The proposed new location keeps them within Bethesda’s central business district and provides designated parking, which is very important, McSwain said.

Most staff currently park in a public garage across the street from the station now on Wisconsin Avenue, according to a county memorandum on the project.

Because the area is open to the public, police vehicles have sometimes been vandalized.

The new site would include at least 102 spaces, 75 for parking and the rest for storage of motorcycles and other equipment, Ossont said.

“We’ll be looking at a number of various configurations,” he said.

Second District commander Capt. Dave Falcinelli said the current building has holes in the walls, and the roof often leaks when it rains, and the lack of secure parking presents safety concerns.

“It’s just in real bad shape,” he said.

In 2005, county staff identified about $200,000 in deferred maintenance costs, and heating and air conditioning and security upgrades that are needed for the building, according to the county memo.