BLACKSBURG, Va. – Blacksburg police just cleared a major hurdle in a decade-long project with town council approving $14.2 million for the department to build a new station.
The current Blacksburg police station is only 14,000 square feet, but the future home slated to be built on the old Blacksburg Middle School property is expected to be 35,000 square feet.
"We have definitely outgrown the building," Blacksburg Police Chief Anthony Wilson said.
As Blacksburg has grown, so has Wilson’s force.
"We went from 35 police officers to the 65 we have today, and this building was probably built to comfortably house about 45 police officers plus you have to realize we have 20 civilian staff, too," Wilson said.
They're making the most of the space they have by converting closets into offices and turning a valued community room into a training room.
"That was kind of the last straw. We had now lost what we thought was the most vital connection to the community, was this space," Wilson said.
Thanks to the funding approved for a new station, these limitations will soon be a distant memory. A new building will give officers training space and allow them to get back to the community.
"We want the citizens to come here. I want them comfortable coming in the building. It's not daunting, it's not scary, so when I have a problem, I know that that's a safe place, it's a cool place to go," Wilson said.
The project is currently in the design phase. The next hurdle they have to clear is rezoning. There's a public hearing for that on May 14. Wilson said it should take about 18 months to build the new station. They're hoping to get the approval they need in the next few months, so they can move in by summer 2021.