15th District station delayed by gas line

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By Robert Felton

Work on the new 15th District police station has finally continued following an environmental site issue that led to a delay in the construction schedule.

Construction on the project began last fall, after the need for a new and more modern station was determined by Mayor Daley, Alderman Isaac Carothers (29th Ward) and their constituents.

"The current Austin District Police Station was built in 1918 [located at 5327 W. Chicago Avenue] so there definitely was a need to build a more up-to-date headquarters," said spokesman for the city's Public Building Commission, Bennie Curry.

However, a problem with the construction site led to the postponing of the station's construction, namely the gas line buried beneath the site.

"There were environmental issues involving the Marathon gas station pipelines that were in the ground underneath the construction site and the risk of a gas leak or explosion," said 15th District Commander Eugene Williams. "They needed to ensure the pipeline was safe and not a hazard to those in the area. The gas station is parallel to the site so precautions needed to be made. After the site was approved and a permit was granted, construction was allowed to continue."

The project began as part of Mayor Richard M. Daley's "Neighborhoods Alive" program. Twelve replacement police stations are being built citywide by the Public Building Commission (PBC).

Since 1999, the PBC has completed new police stations in Districts 1, 6, 10, 16 and 18. Recently, Mayor Daley appeared at the opening of the 10th District station, located at 3315 W. Ogden Ave. District 15, which covers the Austin community, currently under construction. The new station will be located on 5701 W. Madison.

The new 42,000 sq. ft. station is expected to be more than twice the size of the original.

The station will include a Community Room for group functions, such as Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meetings, with a seating capacity of more than 100 individuals, the Community Room can be partitioned to host two meetings simultaneously.

There will also be a Video Arraignment Room that will allow for adjudication of misdemeanor cases using a video teleconferencing feed linked directly to courtrooms when the court system installs compatible equipment.

The fiber optics network that will be installed will provide a faster, more efficient 911 system, telephone system, local area network and wide area network (LAN/WAN) for computer and cable connections.

Barring further delays, the station is expected to open this spring.

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