Kent's administration will study the prospect of constructing a new police department complex on the former RB&W site on Mogadore Road, per Kent City Council's directive.
Councilman John Kuhar suggested the study, noting that the city already owns the bare, 17-acre plot on Mogadore Road near Summit Street.
Council voted 7-2 in favor of the study, with councilmembers Heidi Shaffer and Roger Sidoti voting against the measure.
"It'd be a very wise move to look into the future for the new police station since we would not be displacing anybody and we own it, so we would not have to buy the real estate," Kuhar said during the meeting. "It seems like a practical way to go with our new police station and maybe more palatable for citizens of our city because the cost would probably be half as much."
In November, Kent residents voted down a proposed 0.25 percent income tax hike to fund a new police complex that encompassed the current site near Haymaker Parkway and South Water Street, along with land occupied by several businesses on East Day Street. The estimated cost for the project was about $18 million.
The city hopes to create a technology park corridor along Mogadore Road to bring in high-tech manufacturing jobs to Kent.
In July 2011, council authorized the city to purchase the former RB&W manufacturing site at 800 Mogadore Road for $1 from then-owner Thomas & Betts Corp. Thomas & Betts and Kent then partnered to determine the source of contaminated groundwater on the site, which stemmed from a failed slurry wall.
The city then received a $1.3 million grant in November 2011 to address contamination issues.
Kent Economic Development Director Dan Smith said the city is preparing to issue a request for proposals for certified professionals to oversee the cleanup, and will apply in March for a $2 million grant for site construction.
Shaffer said during the Jan. 16 meeting that she'd prefer to see the city preserve the Mogadore Road land for industrial use, rather than set part of it aside for a police complex.
"We're talking about bringing jobs to Kent. We've got to keep all that land for those purposes," she said.
Smith said the city isn't losing sight of the tech corridor concept, but will explore the possible options.
"It's not inconceivable that a police station could be part of the plans, but we just got the request last week," he said. "If there's technology components within the tech park, safety and security is paramount, so it could be a complimentary type of project and could potentially share expenses, but it's very early in the process to make that determination."
Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or email@example.com