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A station for the future

A $23 million police headquarters in downtown Medford is about to become the latest base for the more than 100 crime fighters who patrol the city.

At 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, police Chief Randy Sparacino along with other city officials will cut the ribbon to the new police facility, which features the latest technology and a floor plan that is designed to help officers catch crooks.

"The design of the building, which will have the field operation division all on one floor, will allow the commingling of police and help in the solvability of cases," Sparacino said.

Sparacino said having the field operation division in one location will allow for greater sharing of information.

At 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, the public is invited to attend an open house in the George Prescott Room on the first floor of the new station.

The three-story, 46,500-square-foot building at 219 S. Ivy St. will have special holding cells to house suspects and keep them far away from victims.

Interview rooms will be more secure and will have better cameras to monitor them, Sparacino said.

Workers, overseen by contractor Adroit Construction Co. of Ashland, are installing office furniture and getting ready for the Oct. 13 move-in date for police.

The three-story glass and brick building with blue accents is basically finished, with landscaping and sidewalks already in.

In the entryway, a large replica of a police badge is displayed on top of parallel strips of wood salvaged from a Sequoia tree that was cut down across from City Hall in 2014. The tree also provided enough wood to make a table for council and other city meetings in the Medford Room in City Hall.

A secure entrance will allow access from the parking lot to the second floor. Suspects will be brought into the parking garage, passing through two gates. Officers will escort them into processing rooms that resemble stark jail cells with concrete-block walls. A detox cell will be available for intoxicated prisoners.

Early in the construction process, cost overruns for that project and new fire stations forced the City Council to build only two of three planned fire stations because the city ran out of money.

"The former city manager presented to the council projects that were $6 million over budget," Councilor Dick Gordon said. Adroit and city officials have been working hard to bring costs down as much as possible since that time, he said.

Gordon said he's heard that costs for the police building may come in lower than previously thought, possibly about $100,000 less.

"They've done a good job of managing the project," he said.

That amount plus some savings on a U.S. Cellular Community Park expansion project could mean the city is close to having the dollars needed to build the third fire station that was tabled, Gordon said.

However, the city is not far enough along in the construction of the fire stations at Table Rock Road and Stewart Avenue to know whether enough money will be available to replace the station at Highland Avenue, Gordon said.

Sparacino said he would have a better idea in a few weeks how far under budget the building will be.

"We're hoping not to use up our contingencies," he said.

Planning for the new police station began under former police Chief Tim George. The address of the station, 219, was also George's employee number with the city of Medford.

George, who toured the building Tuesday, said the station is the result of a lot of years of time and energy to get a facility that will serve the city for at least the next 40 to 50 years.

Police officers are currently crammed into the bottom floor of City Hall, so the new building will provide police and the public with a more secure location, and it should be able to withstand a substantial earthquake.

"It's something Medford can be proud of," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

The new Medford police station will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, Oct. 6. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch