At long last, Michigan City's finest are getting a new building.
Some architectural details and construction plans were presented to the public Friday during a press conference at City Hall for the new Michigan City Police Department, which is slated for the former Eastport Elementary School property on Michigan Boulevard.
Work on the much-ballyhooed building — which has been in the works in one form or another for more than a decade — will break ground later this year and should be ready for move-in during the fall of 2016.
For me, this has always fallen under the "no-brainer" category. MCPD needs a new station, the city would like to clear out space on the North End and the vacant Eastport property was an eyesore and a magnet for crime.
This solution satisfies all those issues. The project is not without its criticisms, of course.
Some have said that the department isn't centrally-located enough. We at The N-D have heard from people who thought something nearer Franklin and Coolspring (more or less the city's geographic center) would have been better, like the former YMCA building.
Frankly, I just don't think that criticism is very valid. For one, the current MCPD is as far away from centrally located as you can get, unless it were actually in the lake.
Second, placing the police department in a part of town that has had more than its share of crime reports sends a strong message. That's not to say that someone who is likely to commit a crime will think twice simply because the police station is only a few blocks away, but I'd have to think that moving a police station into a neighborhood has at least some impact on crime in that area.
At Friday's press conference, Mayor Ron Meer and Police Chief Mark Swistek made mention of the importance of locating the building on Michigan Boulevard, one of the city's main thoroughfares. They indicated that, in addition to being a great investment in that neighborhood, it also will encourage further investment from the private sector in other property along the corridor.
A second criticism would be the cost. Again, this is short-sighted. The current MCPD is an aging building that has a lot of problems. In the coming years, renovations to that building — if the new facility weren't going to be built — would certainly cost well into the millions. So the pricetag here is hefty, sure, but it seems to me that money would be invested into the current facility, anyway, at some point.
Full disclosure: I own a home in that neighborhood, so I guess I have a vested interest in this. However, most of this is just common sense.
I've talked in this space at length about all the great things I see happening in Michigan City and what an exciting time this is to be a resident here. The relocation of the Michigan City Police Department is just another item on what's becoming a very long list.
Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at email@example.com or 1-219-214-4170.