Penn State Altoona has submitted plans to the city for the creation of a new police station in Wehnwood.
The college is proposing a $1.2-million renovation of the former Doctors Services and Altoona Lung Specialists building on Wopsononock Avenue and Juniata Gap Road for occupancy at the beginning of next year, according to Rick Wareham, director of business operations.
The current station for the nine-officer department in the Willow Building - a white house on Juniata Gap Road above the campus' main entrance - is too small, according to Wareham and Police Chief Mike Lowery.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
This building on Wopsononock Avenue is slated to become the new location for the Penn State Altoona police station.
The new station will have more and better-defined work areas that are better located in relation to one another, which will make operations more efficient, according to Lowery.
In the current station, a single room triples as an office area, break room and locker room, he said.
Officers change in a small bathroom and lack adequate storage for their uniforms and bikes, according to Wareham.
The new station, which will be called the Poplar Building, will have an office area for composing reports and conducting general business, and separate break and locker facilities, Lowery wrote in an email.
There will be a lobby area for students to obtain parking permits, Wareham said.
There also will be an interview and conference room that will allow for private discussions, and when expanded, accommodate staff meetings and training sessions, Lowery wrote.
The new station will have an emergency generator that will enable continued operations during power failures, which "are not that infrequent," Lowery wrote.
The college can turn the station into a round-the-clock emergency operations center, if necessary, Lowery wrote.
The new station will also be more secure and accessible for the disabled, Lowery wrote.
And it will be a little closer to downtown, where Penn State Altoona now has four buildings.
It's on the way from Ivyside to downtown, according to Wareham.
Officers sometimes have occasion to go downtown for security issues like doors left unlocked, Wareham wrote.
The move away from the Ivyside campus is the only disadvantage, but it's a minor one, according to Lowery.
"This should not create a burden on students, faculty or staff," he said.
There will be plenty of parking. Officers will always be on duty, and "response to any call for service should not be an issue," he wrote.
The new station will have capacity for expansion, although no expansion of the department staff is planned for now, Wareham said.
The money for the project will come from campus and from University Park funds, according to Wareham.
One incentive for the project was a break former owner Dr. George Zlupko gave on the purchase price for the property, Wareham said.
The college has demolished two adjacent houses to create 20-plus parking spaces for the new station, Wareham said.
Construction on the station should start around March, Wareham predicted.
"There are many more advantages and positive aspects to this project than negative," Lowery said.
"It [will be] a great gateway to Penn State Altoona," said city Planning Director Lee Slusser.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.