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Bal Harbour OK’s new police station in Bal Harbour Shops

Bal Harbour OK’s new police station in Bal Harbour Shops
Mall cops? Sort of. Village police will have a new station at The Bal Harbour Shops.
Special to The Miami Herald
Bal Harbour’s finest will soon be joining the top retail names like Gucci, Chanel, and Cartier that call The Bal Harbour Shops home.

On Tuesday, the village council agreed to a seven-year lease that will give Bal Harbour a 2,554 square-foot space on the mall’s second floor to house a police substation.

The women’s fashion store Escada will be vacating the site.

Police Chief Thomas Hunker says the current police station has leaks and some mold problems. He also added that his officers need the extra space.

”We have out grown the space that our officers are operating now,” he said.

The new station will become a defacto headquarters for 22 uniformed officers, a secretary, four dispatchers and two public service aides. The department would move its communications equipment, a locker and property room there as well. Forfeiture funds, which come from confiscated criminal proceeds, will be used to purchase new equipment.

The administrative and investigative functions of the police department — including the chief’s office, two captains and four detectives — would remain at the current station, 655 96th St., next to Village Hall.

Residents would be able to make police reports at both facilities. The Shops will offer free parking.

But some residents say it is not the time to invest in a new police station.

”This village hall has served the police department well over the past 50 years,” Dina Celini, a member of the Bal Harbour Citizen’s Coalition, said at the meeting. “I don’t think in this time we should be spending $400,000 of taxpayer money to move over there. It could turn out to be a disaster.”

The village will make 84 monthly payments to cover the cost of renovating the interior of the mall space. The cost will be capped at $400,000, according to the village’s agreement.

Bal Harbour also will be charged an interest rate by the Shops, which cannot exceed 6 percent. Owner Randy Whitman told the council he would try to bring that interest rate down. The monthly payments will be paid using money from the village’s general fund.

Hunker told the council the new location will come in handy if a major disaster affects the village.

”The security of the communications center is better on the second floor,” he said.

Village Manager Alfred Treppeda says the project could be complete in about six months.

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