Hemmed in at HQ, police in Fruita hope for expanded digs

Fruita Police Chief Mark Angelo says his department needs more room.

The department’s 16 officers are working shoulder-to-shoulder in cramped spaces at the Fruita Police Department, 101 McCune Ave. Other signs of overcrowding are evidence stored off site and inadequate holding cells, Angelo said.

The department is barred from expanding because the other half of its building is a community room, which is managed by the city’s recreation department, not the police.

“We are in dire need of more space,” Angelo said.

The city has hired the same firm as the city of Grand Junction, Humphries Poli Architects, of Denver, to give police some alternatives as to the cost of a new building or renovating the existing police station.

The department is seriously considering purchasing a new building, Angelo said. He would not disclose its location, but he spoke about how far planning efforts have gone.

“We’re as far as picking a floor plan for that building,” Angelo said.

He realizes, too, the police department’s growing pains are not No. 1 on the city’s to-do list.

“I know that I am No. 3,” Angelo said.

Ahead of him in line are the recently voter-approved community recreation center and a new wastewater treatment plant. But Angelo is indicating that opportunity is knocking to purchase a building in a buyer’s market or to hire a contractor to do the remodeling in a market that has companies scrambling to secure work.

“What has happened in our economic times makes it more important to keep your mind open to opportunities that fall into your lap,” he said.

If the department does not move, it will still need to expand, which could mean the public’s use of the community room at 101 McCune Ave. will come to an end.

“If we stay here, we need 100 percent of the building,” Angelo said. “The community room will no longer be available.”

Fruita Mayor Ken Henry is aware of the Police Department’s needs. The city has been probing the problem for the last year and is 80 percent done with its analysis, he said.

A preliminary report, using data compiled to date, indicates the Police Department’s current home can be expanded, Henry said.

Angelo agreed, the building could be expanded if that were the Fruita City Council’s decision.

“The structure of the building is very good, it’s a good building, it can be remodeled,” Angelo said. “With some additions to the building we can make this location work.”

To expand the Police Department and keep adequate meeting space available to the public, there would have to be a balancing act between the opening of the new recreation center, which would provide new community meeting rooms, and the police building expansion, which would close the adjoining 180-person-capacity community room.

“That is one thing about the new recreation center, we will have adequate room in it,” Henry said.


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