Recently, Becker City has undergone a facility study, to take a look at how the space in city hall and the police department is being used and how the facility could be improved. Becker Police Chief Brent Baloun and City Administrator Greg Lerud invited this reporter to tour the facility and hear about why the city needs an upgrade to their facilities.
Both city hall and the BPD have limited space for staff and officers to work.
The city finance analyst works in the breakroom, where other staff members eat lunch, which is less than ideal. A staff member in IT works from a closet. The city plans to hire a new building official, but are out of offices, closets, and break rooms where the new staff member could work.
“The space needs are existing, and not something we are forecasting to grow into,” said Lerud.
On the police department side of the building, officers and staff face similar issues. Chief Baloun said the area used as the PD was not designed for that use. Their evidence room is at capacity. There is only one tiny locker room for the men and women officers to share, and they also keep their equipment there. Officers work in common areas. There is an interrogation room, but no “soft” interrogation room, meant to interview victims in a comforting setting. There is no place to hold a department-wide meeting (currently, they use the old council chambers, but will not be able to do so if city hall needs to use the space for offices in the future.) These were only some of the issues Chief Baloun had with the facility.
Chief Baloun said that while the timing stinks due to the increase in building materials, the city has been facing this issue for several years. Back in 2017, another facility study was conducted which showed the need back then, though at the time the city council chose not to pursue any improvements. The issue has only gotten worse over time, and Chief Baloun noted that the last year in particular has strained the space to its capacity.
Both Lerud and Chief Baloun stressed that this is an ongoing study. Council has not yet made a decision, and staff, with Wold Architects, is still looking into possible options. (More information on the options presented to council so far is available in the article covering the Becker City Council meeting on page XX.)
Individuals who would like to voice their opinions on the study can contact Lerud or Chief Baloun (contact information can be found on the city website.) Alternatively, they can speak during the open forum portion of a council meeting. Chief Baloun said he’d be happy to give a tour of the facility to anyone interested, to help demonstrate the need for an upgrade.
“It is important to know that this is a very preliminary stage,” said Lerud. “This study was just looking at overall space needs, and the diagrams and documents created by Wold are conceptual and subject to change if the city moves forward to the next step in the process.”
As of yet, it isn’t certain when council will make a final decision on whether to move forward with an upgrade project. The Patriot will keep readers informed as the study continues.