ELGIN, Texas (KXAN) — The City of Elgin will open a brand new police station on Monday as the department prepares to expand its staff to accommodate the city’s rapid growth.
This will be the city’s first police-designated building in its history. The new police headquarters will replace the century-old building the department is currently occupying.
Time for an update
The current Elgin Police Headquarters is right on Depot Street in the city’s downtown historic district, and the building is indeed historic.
Police Chief Chris Noble said the building served many purposes in its 102-year history. It used to be a feed store and Noble believes it was also used by the Elgin Courier, the town’s local newspaper.
“It’s not a police station,” Noble said with a smile and a giggle.
The building ran into serious problems during the 2021 winter freeze that affected so many people in Central Texas. Noble said the walls started leaking and holes started appearing in the side of the building. She said asbestos was covered under the carpet we walked on.
Even the wallpaper in the bathroom was from another century. Noble is betting it dates back to the 1970s.
But the station’s biggest problem is space. The staff are constantly playing musical chairs to make room for new people or to avoid renovations to the run-down building. Three detectives are sharing a room right now, with makeshift walls set up to provide some type of privacy.
It’s not just employees who lack space, but also the sheer amount of evidence the department collects in its day-to-day operations.
The station placed two storage bins in the rear of the station to hold evidence. One of the storage bins is air-conditioned to make sure the evidence isn’t compromised, but this can still lead to problems.
“It’s hard to track all those items and make sure you know where they are when they’re in different facilities,” explained Aaron Crim, the criminal investigations commander for the department.
Keeping up with a growing city
Elgin, which sits on US 290, is just on the outskirts of Austin and is a popular stopover destination for people traveling between the state capital and Houston. But now it is becoming a place to find affordable housing as more and more people moving to Central Texas are looking for a place to live.
City officials expect the population of 10,000 to grow by 8,000 over the next two years.
“Now, not only do we have population growth of residents living here, but we also have a population of people who log in and visit our city,” the Commander said. Crim explained.
There are 32 people on the police department staff, and Noble said he needs to double that number over the next five years to continue providing public safety for the growing community.
He said he has trouble hiring people when he doesn’t have enough space at his current headquarters.
“If you’re going to hire someone, where do you put them,” Noble asked.
The new station, designed to be 11,000 square feet, will provide the department with enough space for new hires, tryouts, and a chance for the community to come and interact with the department.
“By having the space and therefore the tools that we need to effectively serve our community,” Noble said, enthusiastic about her new station.
How much will it cost?
Right now Noble said the cost of the station will be around $5 million. It will be built just behind the dockyard along Depot Street.
A press release from the city said a mixture of bond money certificates and American Rescue Plan Act funds will pay for the construction.
It should be done in 11 months.