SUNBURY — Discussion became heated as City Council discussed and eventually tabled voting on a $6,000 feasibility study that would provide the cost to renovate the current Sunbury Police Department building.
Councilman Josh Brosious proposed the study on the 440 Market St. building two weeks after City Council voted 4-1 in favor of spending $2,500 to study the feasibility of opening a new police station at 337 Arch St.
"I am not saying I am for or against moving the department elsewhere," Brosious said. "The people of Sunbury have a right to know the numbers on the 440 Market Street building. We need to do what is best for taxpayers in the long run and we need to think smart with taxpayer dollars."
City Administrator Jody Ocker and Councilman Chris Reis said they want to keep the process moving forward.
"The building the police are currently in is not feasible and we have been doing this for the past two years," Reis said. "It is time to move on from there."
"We are doing a disservice to our police and city by not moving forward," Ocker said.
Mayor Kurt Karlovich told Brosious he wanted to keep the police at their current location when he took office two years ago, but that he didn't have all the facts.
"If we continue to stall this and the police go on strike or file grievances for the conditions they are in I will be 100 percent behind my force," he said.
Councilman Jim Eister asked Brosious to table the motion on the study until the city talked to the owners of the surrounding buildings.
The 440 Market Street location is landlocked, Police Chief Brad Hare said, and it is just not a building that works for his growing department.
"When you enter this building you smell the drugs because we are not set up correctly," he said. "We are just looking to get out of there at this point."
During the discussion, businessman Mark Walberg said he also has a building the city should consider. Walberg said he is willing to trade, or work out a deal with the city.
Ocker told Walberg the process is moving forward and time was up.
"The time for good ideas has passed," Ocker said.
Council then decided that any property owner in Sunbury that has a building they believe would be good for the police department must submit a complete feasibility study by April. 1.
The city is also currently waiting on a study they paid for at the property of the late Jesse Wooding, who owns the proposed Arch Street location.
Woodring's family members made an offer to the city to purchase the structure.
Council would not disclose what the offer was, but less than two years ago, the purchase price of the building was $275,000.
The building is a 4,900 square foot one-floor structure.
Reis said the city is currently looking for the $1.1 million funding for the city-owned storage garage at 441 Chestnut St.
Council approved Treasurer Kevin Troup to look for loans or grants that would cover the funding needed to renovate the garage and turn it into the police station.