WICHITA, Kan. It's an expansion 17 years in the making. The Wichita Police Department's Patrol East substation may soon grow to near triple its current size.
The Patrol East substation, in the 300 block of South Edgemoor, neighbors Cypress Park. The plan for the substation would expand it into the park, but no one spoke against the proposed expansion at Tuesday's Wichita City Council meeting where that plan received approval.
Police say they've only spoken with two people near the park who oppose the idea to expand Patrol East into the park.
Robert Holt, who lives next to the Patrol East substation, says he enjoys play dates in the park with his great granddaughter, but doesn't mind giving up a little bit of his park if police need it. The Wichita Police Department says the planned expansion for Patrol East is a necessity, not just a wish-list item.
"The facility is simply inadequate," Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says. "It's outdated. It's inefficient. It was designed for a fraction of the number of people that work there."
Ramsay presented the need to expand Patrol East from its current 5,000 square-foot facility.
"The current space is just a little bit bigger than a three-car garage," he says.
Expanding to a 23,000 square-foot facility will better suit the 100-plus officers who work out of the Patrol East building, Ramsay says..
He says the new station will have interview rooms and lockers for every officer.
"It'll just be a more efficient space and something we can take pride in," he says.
The Wichita City Council Tuesday approved the renovation Ramsay says has been needed and talked about since 2002. He says the department heard concerns about how much of Cypress Park that would be impacted by the expansion. Ultimately, however, most of the public input has voiced support for the plan.
"The reality is that we want people to come to that park, we want them to come to the police station," Ramsay says. "And that is a trend where police stations are located next to parks to create a friendly atmosphere."
It's a trend Holt says he can get behind.
"I think that's a great deal," he says. "If you got problems, you know it's right there. You don't have to call anybody, you just go right there and tell (police) your problems."