Las Vegas Sun

January 19, 2018

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Boulder City shows off newly renovated station

Parts of station have a ‘Barney Miller’ feel, others, ultramodern, Chief Finn says


Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

Police Chief Thomas Finn smiles while relaxing in a sergeant’s office, which once was a dilapidated boiler room with deteriorating walls and windows, while giving a tour of the newly renovated police department on Wednesday.

Renovated Police Station

Police Chief Thomas Finn opens the door to his office while conducting a tour Wednesday of the newly renovated police station. Launch slideshow »

Renovations at the Boulder City Police Station

Worker Joe Teluca clears materials from Boulder City Police Chief Thomas Finn's former office during demolition. The space is being converted into offices for Finn and Deputy Chief John Chase and a conference room. Launch slideshow »

At the Boulder City Police Station, 1005 Arizona St., what was old is new and what was new looks old again.

During an open house at the newly renovated station Oct. 14, Police Chief Thomas Finn and Deputy Chief John Chase pointed out the modern amenities inside: bullet-proof glass, offices for sergeants and detectives, a break kitchen and new wiring.

Outside, however, the station looks more like it did in the 1930s than it has in decades. During renovations, one entrance and two awnings were removed and Depression-style bubble lights that say “Police” were added.

“We tried to keep it as close as we could to the original,” Chase told members of the public who came for tours. “We wanted to keep the theme going yet bring the building into the 21st century.”

That period theme extends to the lettering on offices, which Finn said has a “Barney Miller” feel to it.

The renovation came after the Senior Center of Boulder City moved out of half of the building that began as the original Municipal Building. During construction of Hoover Dam, City Manager Sims Ely, who worked for the federal government, was headquartered in the building, which also housed the city clerk, city engineer, post office, federal rangers, city jail and a kindergarten class.

After the city’s incorporation in 1960, the building became City Hall, with the police department and the library sharing the building.

When City Hall moved across the street into its current location on California Street, the Senior Center inherited space in the Arizona Street building.

After the Senior Center was moved into the old library at 813 Arizona St. three years ago, the police department was given the entire building.

Shortly afterward, the department received a $2 million federal Homeland Security grant to build a new state-of-the-art dispatch center, but there was no money to renovate the rest of the space, Finn said. A ballot question asking voters to approve $2.5 million for the job was narrowly defeated in 2007.

City Manager Vicki Mayes found unused bits of capital improvement funds, and the recession helped by bringing down the cost of construction, Finn said. All of the officers were able to move into the new spaces from their offices in the basement for $600,000, Finn said.

In addition to providing them more modern space, it makes officers more accessible to members of the public, Chase said. An interview room is available to provide privacy while speaking to an officer, and people with mobility problems no longer have to negotiate the stairs to the basement, the deputy chief said.

The booking area, evidence room and holding cell, which is original from the building’s 1931 construction, remain in the basement, which had no improvements, Finn said.

The Boulder City Police Explorers student group inherited some of the basement space as well, providing them a place to meet, detective Michelle Isham, the Explorers adviser, said.

Explorer Kenny Halstead was pleased.

“I love the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a joyous place to work.”

Paul Adams, who moved to Boulder City in 1967, was pleased to see the renovations. A historic preservation buff, he disapproved of changes made to the building’s exterior over the years. He especially disliked the Plexiglas canopies put over the police station and senior center doors, and covering them with canvas didn’t help, he said.

“I’m so glad to see the improvements to the exterior of the building,” he said. “It does not go back perfectly to the original design, but it certainly does in spirit. Finally, it is beginning to look like it might have.”

The modern interior is welcome, too, Adams said. He had many opportunities to attend meetings in the basement offices for various committees he’s worked on, and he knows how uncomfortable they were.

“I know a lot of the cops, and it’s time there was a place where they could work easily,” he said. “It looks more professional, and they act more professional.”

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