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District Station Renovation Adds Space, Facilities

After months of being homebound — their offices relocated into houses while renovation took place — West Springfield District Station captain Dorian Portee and Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield) are ready to move back into their new offices.

The $10,840,000 renovation updated and reconfigured the police, fire and supervisor’s offices, adding about 18,000 for a total of 41,500 square feet. Funded with a 1998 bond, the renovation includes increased facilities for the police and supervisor as well as the fire department, which is gaining another truck bay long enough for a hook-and-ladder unit, which will be an addition as well. It breaks down into 49 percent for police facilities; 34 percent for fire; 10 percent dedicated to lobby, community room and public facilities; and 7 percent going to the supervisor’s office.

Katayoon Shaya is the project manager of the building design division at the Fairfax County Department of Public Works. Although the building is relatively on schedule, Shaya attributes some of the delay to work going on around an operating fire facility. The original February move-in date has been pushed back to April.

"The progress here has worked around the existing personnel," said Shaya. "It has not been an easy renovation, but the police, supervisor and fire have been good sports. Anybody who had seen the old police facility could attest to the need. The existing station was totally inadequate."

The architectural firm Grimm and Parker, based in McLean, designed the renovation features with wide windows, vaulted ceilings and an ability to blend old and new, according to Shaya. That included leaving old cinderblock walls for needed support while attaching drywall and blending the two.

"I think they've done a really good job blending the old and new," she said.

It was the space that Portee missed in his temporary office in the house.

"We're on top of each other," he said, adding that they are still operating at their same efficiency.

"We haven't had any impact on delivering services," Portee said.

Over in McConnell's office, administrative assistant Steve Edwards shared the dining room area with staff assistant Peyton Onks. The location of the houses, for both police and supervisors, is behind the Post Office on Rolling Road.

"It's been a little challenging for our constituents to find us," he said.

FROM THE ENTRANCE, the supervisor’s office and police station will open up into the lobby, which is spacious like some of the other district stations in the area. Franconia is a good example. McConnell's office will have access to the community room, which has a partition so it can be divided into two rooms if necessary. Then the supervisor's suite, as Shaya referred to it, contains a reception area, conference room, three assistant’s offices, a work room and kitchen.

The men's and women's bathrooms have a door from the supervisor's suite but will be accessible only from the lobby, according to Shaya.

The police station will have an arched window overlooking the lobby, where the dispatcher will sit, as well as a citizen interview room off to the side. Included in the police station is an office for the captain, conference room, several offices, an evidence room, a work/copy room, a roll call and reports room, as well as two police bays. One is for the bicycle team and the other is a secure "sally-port," as Shaya called it, which is a bay where a police car can transfer suspects with minimal disruption. The bike team did house its office in the jail cells in the old station, but now it will have a garage with lockers and a separate office space. There is also a biohazard room, so officers can wash off chemicals they encounter, and four interview rooms. In the locker rooms, extra space is available in case the staff is increased, but Portee said that decision would be made on the county level.

The bond paid for all the structural facilities, but there will be updated computers and telecommunications equipment with the police, as well.

"We will have new equipment, new computers, because we'll have the space," said Portee. "We're targeting to have it within several months of the station opening."

"This is going to be such an improvement," Shaya said.

ON THE FIRE department side, the construction is going on around the existing front office and garage, while the two trailers out back are used for "day-room functions," said Shaya.

New bunk rooms will be split, one on either side of the truck bay, and the existing wall under the new wall out front will be torn down.

Although the original time frame to move back in was February, the facility will be up and running by mid-April. Shaya noted the weather and the "unexpected," as reasons for the delay.

"Renovations are always complicated, you go in not knowing," she said, indicating that refinishing some walls while leaving others exposed called for some of the decisions.

"There are little things that add up," she said.

McConnell's staff is looking forward to getting new furniture as part of the office reconfiguration. Age is one of the factors surrounding their furniture request.

"My desk was so old, I found a McGovern pin in it," Onks said. McGovern was Richard Nixon's democrat opponent in the 1972 election.

According to Shaya, the houses the offices are presently in will be leveled and the area landscaped.

"The area will be reforested and put in a conservation easement," she said.