Government officials and community leaders commemorated the grand opening of the Signal Hill Police Department’s new state-of-the-art police station and emergency operations center (EOC), which a crowd of local residents were able to tour on Saturday, Jan. 26.
The ceremony included a flag-raising by the police department’s honor guard led by Capt. Ron Mark, with assistance from Cub Scout Pack 206 Den 14 and Girl Scout Troop 1853. U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, State Senator Ricardo Lara and State Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal also attended the grand opening, giving their first commemorative plaques of recognition of the year. The ceremony took place just three days before the police department’s relocation.
The new 21,500-square-foot facility on Walnut Avenue between 27th and 28th streets replaces the aging 13,000-square-foot former police station in the Civic Center on Hill Street, increasing the headquarters by 8,500 square feet.
Signal Hill Mayor Tina Hansen said the project required the community, police department and City officials to be “patient,” which led to the best end result.
“We are a city that has a vision,” she said. “We know where we want to go. It may take us a while to figure out how to get there, but we are also a city that is patient. We don’t rush into decisions or judgments… We have an outstanding staff and city attorney who know just when to act to make that vision a reality. In Signal Hill, we love what seems to be impossible.”
She said the project was first planned 12 years ago by then Police Chief Don Pedersen, who was looking to modernize the station’s EOC after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The new modern station was built to serve the city’s growing population of more than 11,000 residents since the former station was constructed almost 60 years ago for a community of only 4,000 residents, Hansen said. She added that police officers for years worked in cramped offices the size of a closet and even interviewed witnesses in hallways, but “always gave their all.”
The nearly $18-million project was funded through former Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency bonds and required “no new taxes, fees or assessments,” Hansen said, adding that the project also required a lengthy legal process to acquire the land that was broken into 7,000 shares since the oil property was left over from prospecting days in the 1920s. The City ended up purchasing the land for $314,000, she said.
The new station, which has a total of seven modern jail cells and one sobering cell, houses a state-of-the-art dispatch center and EOC that Hansen said will “improve the City’s ability to assist the community after a natural disaster and provide mutual aid to other communities.” She added that the building is also energy-efficient and the structure will likely qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
“The design takes advantage of the natural daylight, and solar power will offset the energy demand,” Hansen said. “This new station will serve our community well into the next century and even has room for expansion on the north side, if needed.”