HOSCHTON — Hoschton Police Chief Jeremy Howell had planned to find a new home for the department in a few years, but that relocation will now happen sooner than he anticipated.
Howell announced earlier this month that the department will have to move back to Hoschton City Hall.
“Some issues have come up out of our control regarding the status of the buildings and the ownership of the buildings that may require us to vacate in a very timely fashion,” he said.
Even though the police department has approximately two years and four months remaining on its lease, the council announced that Howell and the department’s three other officers will have to move by Jan. 1, 2010.
The department used to be located in city hall, but moved in 2007 to a 3,000-square-foot suite on Pearl Industrial Boulevard.
At the time, Mike DiAmbrose, who then owned Hoschton-based Commercial Property Restoration, donated use of the building for $1 per month. However, ownership of the space has since been transferred to a bankruptcy trustee who has told the city it must leave, according to Kristen Mahan, Hoschton’s city clerk.
And while Howell is in favor of returning to city hall, he said some concerns need to be resolved first. The first involves space, which was a main reason the department initially moved.
“When we moved out of there (city hall), it was a space issue, it was a health issue, and I don’t know if any of those issues have been addressed,” he said. “My only concern is having a situation where we haul all this stuff up to city hall without a perceived game plan.”
During a recent city council meeting, Councilman Jim Jester presented a proposal to identify the police department’s needs, including space and electronic issues, and study how these could affect city hall’s current operations, such as holding municipal court, city council meetings and elections. Jester’s proposal calls for exploring costs, solutions and other issues associated with moving the police department back to downtown Hoschton.
Jester said he will present a more detailed proposal at the city council’s October meeting.
The department also recently received permission to buy two new, fully equipped and computerized police vehicles this year, which Howell said could help reduce the amount of space the force might need.
“By utilizing the technological force multipliers (in-car computers), they (officers) have their office in their cars,” he said. This could reduce the amount of office equipment needed, such as the number of desks and computers, he added.
Besides space, another obstacle involves finding an evidence room that is both as secure and spacious as the current one, which is alarm-activated and includes 24-hour video surveillance.
The council plans to readdress the police department’s move at its Thursday work session and Oct. 5 meeting. Both will be at 7 p.m. at the Hoschton Depot.