FAIR HAVEN: POLICE STATION UPGRADES SLATED

The stationhouse hasn’t been updated since its conversion from a schoolhouse in 1983. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Fair Haven’s police station is in for a once-in-a generation makeover in coming months.

A small window frames a view of the front door from inside the dispatcher’s post. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

The stationhouse, which opened as the home of the police department in July, 1983 following a conversion from the Fisk Street School, is due for its first round of upgrades since then, police Chief Joe McGovern told redbankgreen recently.

The building lacks barrier-free restrooms, and there’s no locker room for female officers, he said.

Mold also factors into it. Roof leaks led to the formation of mold in the plaster ceilings that have long been hidden above drop ceilings, affecting about half the area above the second floor, McGovern said.

Mold is “not an overwhelming issue, I would say,” said Mayor Ben Lucarelli. “We’re not into the realm of needing an industrial hygienist. But it’s not anything we can leave there.”

No health issues associated with the mold have been reported, McGovern said.

The council entered into a contract last December with Red Bank-based architectural firm Kaplan Gaunt DeSantis, which also did the plans for the 1983 conversion. No bids for the remodeling have yet been solicited; Lucarelli expects the project to cost between $1.2 million and $1.4 million, and a bond is in the works.

“This is not a want — it’s a need,” Lucarelli said of the project.

It’s not yet clear if the department will fully vacate the stationhouse into trailers to be rented or move into the adjoining youth center during construction, Lucarelli said. The center, too, is to get some renovations, and plans to break through a common wall between the center and the station may make moving some or all of the police there unfeasible, he said.

“If you have the trailers, it’s more expensive, but it could save some money in the long run,” he said.

Wherever the department moves in the interim, “we’ll always be 100-percent operational,” McGovern said.

The community center has not been affected by mold, borough officials said at a council meeting in December.

At present, there’s no plan to upgrade the police telecommunications system beyond the installation of new wiring, which Lucarelli called “the backbone for future upgrades.”

McGovern said the work could begin as early as September, and is expected to take six months to complete.

The council will soon be turning its attention to the public works building, which also is due for upgrades, Lucarelli said.