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New Wheeling Police Headquarters Faces Delays

photo by: Photo Provided

This artists' rendering by M&G Architects & Engineers shows the exterior design of the renovated building on the former Ohio Valley Medical Center campus where the new Wheeling Police Department headquarters will relocate later this year. (Image Provided)

WHEELING – Supply chain issues have created construction delays and resulted in escalated costs for various public and private sector projects over the past several months, and now the crisis is reportedly pushing the long-awaited completion of the new Wheeling Police Headquarters further into this fall.

Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron provided an update this week on progress related to the construction of the police headquarters in Center Wheeling. The former Valley Professional Center building at 2115 Chapline St. – one of the facilities vacated following the closure of the Ohio Valley Medical Center in 2019 – has been under construction for several months.

A groundbreaking for the major renovation project was held in September of 2021, and until recently, the completion date for the work was expected to be about a year later.

“We have run into a few supply chain issues with the police headquarters project,” Herron told members of Wheeling City Council this week. “That project was slated to be completed at the end of September. That completion date has been pushed back to mid-November.”

Herron said miscellaneous items like doors, air conditioning system components and several other smaller but necessary supplies are among the list of items on backlogged purchase orders that are causing the slight delay. The city manager noted that supply chain snag is not a major issue and is only causing a minor speed bump in the extensive, multimillion-dollar renovation.

“The completion delay is not significant in light of the size and complexity of the project, as well as the construction environment that we are all in these days,” he said. “It is progressing nicely. It’s going to be a spectacular building once it’s completed, but we are running a little bit behind.”

Waller Corporation of Washington, Pa., was awarded the general contract for the police headquarters project. The $6.5 million renovation will transform approximately 30,000 square feet of former health care service and related office space into a new, modern police facility complete with an evidence room, women’s restrooms, lunch room, a sally port, lobby, staff and victim’s advocate offices, training rooms, meeting spaces, locker room, fitness center and more.

The new Wheeling Police Headquarters will replace the cramped quarters currently being utilized by the department at the City-County Building downtown. The city police department has been operated out of that much smaller 4,500-square-foot facility since 1959, and officials have noted that the department outgrew the small, antiquated space long ago.

Supply chain issues have also caused a delay in what police officials described as another major step forward for the department – the assigned cruiser program. City leaders agreed to move to a take-home cruiser program months ago, but availability of the types of vehicles needed for patrol cars has been very limited.

This week, legislation was introduced to purchase 19 new vehicles and to outfit them with police equipment packages at a total cost of around $1 million.

“Although approved by city council some time ago, supply chain issues have caused significant delays with purchasing these new police cruisers – all part of the department’s new assigned vehicle program,” Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said. “We were able to locate several vehicles that will meet our needs at a better cost for 2023 models. We believe the assigned vehicle program will improve recruitment and retention as well as improve visibility and emergency response times.”

With assigned vehicles for each officer on the force, the useful life of each car is expected to be extended greatly compared to vehicles that are in constant use and in a rotation between different officers from shift to shift. If approved during a second reading next month, the purchase of the police cruisers is expected to be paid with money in the city’s Project Fund, which was bolstered last year by pandemic relief reimbursements from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.

Funds generated from the city’s User Fee or City Service Fee are being used to pay for the construction of the new police headquarters and the new fire department headquarters, which will be built from the ground up along property on 17th Street in East Wheeling. A groundbreaking ceremony for that $9 million construction project is expected to take place next week.

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