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Chief Teynor answers Public Safety Building questions

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The site of the Prairie du Chien Fire Station is one of several sites considered for the location of a new Public Safety Center that would house the PdC fire station and city police station. (Steve Van Kooten/Courier Press)

By Steve Van Kooten

 

Prairie du Chien Chief of Police Kyle Teynor sat in the City Hall conference room with more than 20 business owners and professionals on Sept. 12. Dressed in uniform with his radio on his hip and his badge on his chest, Teynor’s goal was to address public concerns about the proposed Public Safety Building, a project that has attracted public attention since US Senator Tammy Baldwin visited one of the prospective sites, located along the 600 block of State St. last July. From that visit and the news coverage that followed, Teynor stated, “It threw a whole slew of assumptions and conclusions out there.” 

Teynor stipulated his answers were his perspective and did not represent the view of the city as a whole or other city officials. 

The Public Safety Building’s prospective functions included hosting city police and fire services, including housing of vehicles and equipment. Teynor stated there were no current plans for a jail facility at the location and Gundersen Ambulance, formerly considered for the building’s uses, had backed out because of the projected time frame to initiate construction.

The idea for the building was considered 7-8 years ago, according to Teynor. “In the last four years, the ball has started rolling.”

Three years ago, Prairie du Chien’s city government contracted Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH) for a space/need study, which resulted in an approximation of 30,000 square feet for the area needed, according to Chad Abram, City Administrator, and Nate Gilberts, City Planner.

“SEH is known throughout the Midwest, has footprints in the Fox Valley area,” Teynor said, “they’ve designed and built buildings as far as Colorado.” From there, the city approved the study in open session.

The Center project considers “significant setbacks” encountered by responder vehicles at the current police and fire stations, including the inability for vehicles to turn around before entering public streets. Teynor pointed out that, at the current station, his police vehicle has to back out into the street. “That’s not safe at all.”

Teynor was a part of group formed to explore “a path forward.” Group members visited analogous service buildings in other communities, such as Viroqua, to take lessons from mistakes made and learn from successes attained.

Baldwin was an important figure in the project since she helped procure federal funding. The request, approved in December 2022, allocated $4.95 million to help make the building happen. Teynor noted that the federal money wasn’t a loan, and the city was not required to return the funds as long as the money was utilized by Dec. 31, 2025. The grant was competitive; Prairie du Chien has applied in previous years and failed to obtain funding. “This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“We’ve got about half the project paid for,” Teynor said. Teynor also stated this was his estimate. Teynor stated plans for the project have ranged from $2.5 million to $18 million dollars. One of Teynor’s priorities has been to ensure the community gets a building that it needs with the proper services and resources.

Baldwin’s visit to the “old hospital location” sparked debate in the community about the building’s possible location. In August, a group of citizens from the area around State St. attended a Common Council meeting to lay out concerns about the old hospital location, which is located down the street from Prairie du Chien High School.

“We’re still exploring several locations,” Teynor said, “and not a single one is a perfect location.” Teynor stated the empty lot on Blackhawk was donated to Memorial Hospital in 1955 and Crossing Rivers owns the property “free and clear.” Teynor stated the location was the preferred property for the police department, but the location of the property was not optimal.

“That lot is large enough for what we need in my opinion,” Teynor said. The Chief of Police addressed the concern of building the service building in a residential area: “We’re located in a community right now; there’s residential houses around us. I feel like we’re pretty good neighbors.” Teynor added that he understood concerns from citizens.

Another prospective location was the site of the current fire station on Blackhawk Ave., which presented a different set of problems to be considered: existing structures would have to be taken down, fire department equipment left without proper housing for “a year and a half or more,” and the relocation of a water main that runs under the alley on the property. Additionally, Teynor stated the area now resided in a cellular tower fall radius.

A lot on Mooney St. was considered as well; however, an intersection on Mooney St. and Marquette Rd. wouldn’t allow emergency vehicles to make left turns. This would create delayed response times.

Other areas, such as property behind Blackhawk Apartments and vacant land on the South side of town posed response issues for emergency services as well.

“There’s a multitude of things at each location that gives us a curve ball,” Teynor said. “We’re trying to work through those things. I don’t think there’s a perfect location for this building, but if we squander $4.95 million, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

Teynor concluded with a request for anyone with questions to contact him. The Chief of Police stated he wanted to hear concerns from the community.

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