Lantana: Town Police Department to move

By Mary Thurwachter

    The Lantana Police Department is destined for new digs in the old Department of Juvenile Justice building.
    At its April 11 meeting, the Lantana Town Council discussed what to do with the old Juvenile Justice building at 901 N. Eighth St. off Lantana Road on the northeast corner of the former A.G. Holley property.

    The town, which has a lease on the building through 2048, has put aside $95,000 for repairs to the DJJ building, and this year, the state Legislature awarded Lantana another $500,000 for repairs.
    The state-owned building has been used for training police officers and sheriff’s deputies for several years.
    Mayor Dave Stewart said the 10,000-square-foot building is uninhabitable. He wanted the building, next to Lantana’s new Sports Complex, to be used as a recreational facility. Stewart said the town was eligible to receive a $300,000 grant that had to be used for recreation and that that money could be used toward turning the DJJ building into a recreation center.
    But Police Chief Sean Scheller said the building should house the Police Department, currently located in two smaller buildings next to Town Hall. The town had considered the DJJ location for the police years ago, but the need wasn’t as critical after the town reclaimed the old Lions Club facility (next to the existing police station) to house its detectives several years ago.

    Town Council member Lynn Moorhouse said having the police at the DJJ building would give them an opportunity to keep an eye on ball fields and would allow the entire department to be under one roof.
    “It’s big enough to house everything, including the holding cells,” Moorhouse said.
    Vice Mayor Phil Aridas agreed. “I want the police over there,” he said. “We do have $3 million in ball fields over there.”
    The new police location would also put them in close proximity of Water Tower Commons, a retail and residential complex being developed on Lantana Road east of I-95.
    Council members Malcolm Balfour and Tom Deringer agreed with Moorhouse and Aridas about moving the Police Department.
“I know the Police Department was instrumental in getting the lease (for the DJJ facility),” Deringer said.
    After the 4-1 vote, with the mayor dissenting, Stewart said, “I think we’re missing a great opportunity to create something nice for the residents.” However, the town is still eligible for a recreation grant. “It just won’t be as much,” Stewart said.
    Renovations could begin later this year.
    Town Manager Deborah Manzo said the current police buildings could house other town departments.

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