Morton Grove trustees voted 4-1 Monday to purchase a $1,150,000 land parcel, with a building, at 8300 Lehigh, slightly south of the Metra station, on a nearly 2.5 acre site.
Mayor Dan Staackmann said the building could eventually be used to relieve serious overcrowding at the police station--a problem that has been ignored for decades.
The police department moved into its current location, adjacent to village hall, in 1978-1980, and they were told the too-small space was a temporary location, Staackmann said.
"The appropriation of money has been put off," Staackmann said.
"The size and location of the current facility, in a residential area, are not meeting our needs. If there's a major call, cars go shooting out of here," he said, adding that created a safety risk on a block with homes on it.
Police: deplorable conditions
Morton Grove Police Chief Mark Erickson said the conditions in the police department building were "deplorable" and posed safety concerns.
"We moved here in 1980 and got a space that was too small the day we moved in," he said. "This building is inadequate for our needs."
The department operates in 17,000 square feet, and the minimum space requirement for a modern police station for a force of Morton Grove's size is 34,000 square feet, he said. Morton Grove has 44 sworn officers and 16 civilian personnel, including part-time staff.
The building's boiler and air conditioning don't work properly and the basement sometimes gets water during storms, he said. Jail cells do not meet current standards.
The village has had architects do feasibility studies for possible renovation of the space. But when architects have come out to look at the building, their reaction is "'How do you function as a police department in that building?'" Erickson said.
Regarding the 8300 Lehigh parcel, currently occupied by General Bandages, Inc., the police chief said, "This is a nice piece of property and they're getting a great deal on it."
One trustee voted against
Trustee Larry Gomberg voted against the purchase, saying he had not received adequate information about the property or seen it, and that he wanted to look at the financial outlay when discussion of the 2013 budget comes up soon.
Trustee Shel Marcus was absent from the meeting.
The ordinance states the village would close on the property in December 2013, or sooner if it becomes vacant. Its passage Monday permits the village to put $100,000 in earnest money on the property, to be held in an escrow account with Chicago Title and Trust.
The ordinance also indicates the property would be paid for from its general corporate fund reserves, and budgeted in the 2013 capital projects budget.