On Aug. 17, the city of Orchard Lake had a groundbreaking ceremony for additional space that is set to be constructed at the Police Department and for a new Department of Public Works facility.

On Aug. 17, the city of Orchard Lake had a groundbreaking ceremony for additional space that is set to be constructed at the Police Department and for a new Department of Public Works facility.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Orchard Lake breaks ground on Police Department addition, new DPW facility

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published September 2, 2022


ORCHARD LAKE — Orchard Lake Director of City Services Gerry McCallum estimated that it was between five and seven years ago that the city’s Planning Commission put together a capital improvement plan that included adding space to the Orchard Lake Police Department and constructing a new Department of Public Works facility.

After clearing some hurdles, that plan is now in the process of coming to fruition. On Aug. 17, Orchard Lake held a groundbreaking ceremony for both of the projects.

City officials have had aspirations for the projects for years, with the only major obstacle standing in the way being funding.

That obstacle was removed last November, when voters approved a $4.5 million bond proposal to pay for the Police Department expansion and a new DPW facility.

Both the Police Department and the DPW facility will be at City Hall, which is located at 3955 Orchard Lake Road.

“The contractor that we selected for this is Tower Construction. Great company, very workable, and they came in with the lowest bid price, as well,” McCallum said. “They anticipate, if everything goes well … to have the buildings up and the first layer of asphalt done, hopefully, by late December … probably January, February, (for) getting occupancy and enjoying our new space, which is needed.”

The additional space at the Police Department is expected to be approximately 4,500 square feet and will include new office space and a “couple” holding cells.

“More importantly is a sally port for bringing detainees in a security area for the police,” McCallum said.

The project also includes an attached garage for police vehicles, which is expected to be approximately 5,000 square feet.

The new DPW facility will be about 30 feet away from the Police Department garage. It is estimated that it will be around 6,000 square feet.

When that building is completed, the old one will be removed from the City Hall site, according to McCallum.

He shared his rationale for why the projects are important ones for Orchard Lake.

“For the Police Department, it all revolves around the security of detainees and the security of police officers,” McCallum said. “Right now, we do not have a secure area where we can bring individuals in. Actually, they bring them, right now, where the City Hall staff is and where the police clerk is, which is not a good situation, especially if you have someone that’s a violent criminal. … The safety factor is what drove this for the Police Department.”

McCallum also weighed in on the reasoning for the new DPW facility.

“The Department of Public Works building is very, very old,” he said. “The joint effort on this was to provide security for the Police Department (and) also facilitate a Department of Public Works building that can house all of our equipment and maintain our equipment in a reasonable manner. … The DPW equipment is very expensive, and we like to maintain our equipment well so we don’t have to replace it that often.”

Orchard Lake Mayor Norm Finkelstein said that the projects are a “big deal” for the city.

“I think we’re going to have quite a nice facility,” he said. “It’s not overdone, but it will be safe, it’ll be efficient. And the new DPW facility will be completely new, and necessary, for maintaining and housing all this expensive equipment that we need these days. So we’re pretty fiscally conservative in Orchard Lake, and this is a big deal for us.”

Finkelstein said that last year’s bond proposal “overwhelmingly” passed. However, he pointed out that some were opposed to it.

According to Finkelstein, two-thirds of voters ended up approving the proposal.

“We were able to explain to the voters in many ways what we were doing and why, and the fact that it didn’t cause an increase in our taxes — that we could absorb the annual bond payments,” he said. “We didn’t have to ask for (a) higher millage rate.”

McCallum expanded on that point.

“Typically, communities will have to raise the millage rate in order to pay the bond, but we have it incorporated in our three-year budget, where there is no millage rate increase for the payment of this bond,” he said. “So that was a huge benefit and a huge plus for our residents, as well.”

Finkelstein discussed what it is that excites him the most about the projects.

“That our Police Department will have a safe place to bring in any detainees,” he said. “We don’t have a jail; we aren’t going to be keeping people overnight and that sort of thing, but there are times when we have to bring detainees into the facility, and now there’ll be places for them to be safely stowed. … Right now, they just come into the office and have to sit at a desk in the middle of everything, and that’s really not appropriate these days. … We’ll have facilities for both male and female officers to have lockers separately, and shower rooms, and even though we’re a pretty small department, we need that sort of thing.”

As for individuals who are being more than just temporarily detained, Finkelstein said, “Oakland County is the jail they would go to if they have to stay overnight.”

The Police Department garage is also something that has gotten Finkelstein’s attention.

“The police vehicles will be housed in the garage so that, especially in the wintertime, officers won’t have to spend 20 minutes getting the snow and ice off the vehicles when they take them out,” he said. “So that’ll be a plus; it’ll be safer.”

McCallum has been in his current role with Orchard Lake for approximately 12 years. He discussed the significance of getting the projects approved.

“I think it’s one of the bigger things that, in the past years, (has) happened,” McCallum said. “I think it’ll benefit the entire city. … You’re going to walk in and say, ‘Wow, this is nice. I’m proud of what the city has built here.’”

Both Finkelstein and McCallum acknowledged those who have helped turn the projects from an aspiration into a reality.

“I want to say how much I appreciate, not only the voters in Orchard Lake (for) having approved this, but all of the people that worked on various committees — our Planning Commission and so forth — to really put this together and make it the kind of facility that we could be proud of,” Finkelstein said.