Oswego village and police officials joined representatives from the Yorkville Police Department, Kendall County Sheriff's Office, Oswego Fire Protection District, and others Thursday morning to break ground on the new 70,000 square foot Oswego police headquarters on Woolley Road.
Also present at the groundbreaking were representatives from the building’s design engineers, Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Inc., as well as representatives from the consulting firm of McClaren, Wilson & Lawrie of Wheaton and the construction management company Gilbane Building Company.
The new facility will be built at 3355 Woolley Road, just east of the Oswego Fire Protection District Station 1.
The new station will replace the current facility on Route 34 across from Fox Bend Golf Course that opened 26 years ago, when the village's population was 3,876, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The bureau estimates the village's current population at 33,955 as of July 2015. That station's building site was a former highway rest area that was donated to the village and the Oswegoland Park District in the 1980s.
The new headquarters is planned as a public safety campus, including a community room that will be available for public use. It's anticipated to open in late summer 2018.
Village Administrator Dan Di Santo, in a speech to the crowd, said the project would be completed without raising property taxes.
"A growing community has many challenges," Di Santo said. "Chief among those challenges is responsibly planning the staffing and infrastructure needs for an increasing population. This new police headquarters will ensure that the Oswego community has a police department fully equipped to protect and serve now and into the future. I'm thrilled to say that this project is securely financed; that the site was acquired at a tremendous bargain, we're very thankful for that; that the project is fully funded without the use of property taxes, which was very important; and that the final project will be a world class police facility, built within an aggressive budget."
He said Police Chief Jeff Burgner "continues to lead an inclusive process that involves the entire police department."
Burgner said the department is currently housed in a 22,000 square foot facility designed to hold 50 employees.
"In 1991, when we moved in there, I wasn't employed there but I imagine they thought this building was going to last forever," he said. "But it's not. We're up at nearly 70 employees right now, so we've really outgrown the building. The operational layout is just not conducive to modern day policing, so with this new police headquarters it's really going to solve those issues."
Village President Gail Johnson praised the project for being fresh and innovative.
"Many years ago in a very different time, a man named Robert Kennedy said this about criminals and law enforcement: he said 'Every society gets the criminal it deserves,'" she said. "And he continued, 'What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists upon.' In Oswego, we insist upon innovative, fresh, and unprecedented public safety. Groundbreaking, if you will. From its own mission statement, our Oswego Police Department is committed to enhancing this community by enhancing the quality of life, ensuring the safety of the community through the protection of life, liberty and property. We will continue to foster cooperation by building diverse partnerships and serving the community with integrity, professionalism and compassion. That's the mission of the Oswego Police Department."
Village trustees voted unanimously last April to approve a $32 million bond issue that officials have said won’t raise residents’ property taxes. Instead, the $2.8 million in annual principal and interest payments will be made through the village’s home rule sales tax, which was increased Jan. 1 to a total of 8.5 percent. The sales tax is charged on select purchases in local stores and is paid by customers who live in the village and those who live outside the village but shop in the stores.