Council Mum on RPD Delay

RIDGEWAY (March 25, 2016) – Town Council’s Feb. 27 target date for relocating the police station to a front office in the Century House at 170 S. Dogwood Ave. came and went with the police station still in its traditional spot at 160 S. Palmer St. and the front office of the Century House still being used, as of Tuesday night, as Council chambers.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, rescheduled from March 10 when Council was unable to muster a quorum, Council avoided answering questions about the delay with a reluctance that bordered on downright recalcitrance.

“For one thing, we need to put out bids on a contractor to move this glass-top table out of here (Council chambers),” Councilman Heath Cookendorfer quipped Tuesday.

Cookendorfer said Council needed to discuss the police station move in executive session; however, when pressed, he could not provide The Voice with a specific exemption in the state’s open meetings laws that allowed for such a discussion behind closed doors.

Councilman Doug Porter said Council had run up against some “logistical” challenges with the move that had to be worked through, although like Cookendorfer he would not specify what those challenges were.

When Council at their Feb. 11 meeting set the Feb. 27 date for the move, certain challenges remained even then. Securing the room, as well as evidence were key issues last month, and Cookendorfer then suggested installing cipher locks on the doors, while officer Christopher Culp suggested the purchase of a new evidence locker for $130.

Tuesday night, however, it was clear that the installation of the locks had failed. And, Cookendorfer noted, the Town was on the hook for the cost.

“The locks didn’t work. I get that,” Cookendorfer said. “But we had to eat the cost of the locks. I’m trying to find out why we had to eat the cost of those locks.”

Herring said the packaging on the locks had been opened and were therefore not returnable, costing the Town $140. The locks were ordered, she said, through Ruff Hardware. Cookendorfer asked Council to find out from whom the locks were actually purchased and explore contacting them directly to determine if they could be returned and what the actual costs were.

Porter said the move was still going to happen, although when appears to be a mystery.

Council hopes to rent out the S. Palmer Street location for $600 a month once it is available. Ridgeway will have to obtain permission from Norfolk-Southern Railway, which owns the property on which the police station still sits, to lease the building. Half of the rent would also have to be paid to the railway, as well as a one-time fee of $750.