Plans to begin construction of the new state police barracks in Benner Commerce Park in Bellefonte were detailed in a letter sent from Gov. Tom Wolf to state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, on March 3, but state police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said Friday that no final determination has been made.
A public hearing, which will offer county residents an opportunity to voice their thoughts on the consolidation, will be held at 7 p.m. on April 6 at the Philipsburg Middle School. The hearing will be attended by state police officials, Tarkowski said, and the decision to consolidate will be made after the hearing.
The public hearing was arranged by Philipsburg resident Nancy Snyder and not the state police, Conklin said.
“Nancy has done a great job organizing the event,” he said. “It’s going to be a good opportunity for residents to come together and talk about the consolidation.”
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The plans to consolidate the Philipsburg and Rockview barracks date back to Jan. 29, 2015, when the Department of General Services posted a solicitation for proposal requesting a 15,000-square-foot facility to be constructed within two miles of the Interstate 99 and state Route 150 interchange.
The contract was awarded to Hudson Companies, a design and construction firm from Hermitage. The DGS has not returned requests to comment on when the contract was awarded.
Tyler Hudson, partner of the Hudson Companies, said Wednesday the project will begin in May and be completed by July 2018, confirming the information in Wolf’s letter to Conklin.
“In an effort to create savings and be efficient, the consolidation of Philipsburg and Rockview stations was a necessity. The Philipsburg station will be repurposed for specialty units within the PSP. The PSP received many proposals for the new Rockview station and PSP accepted one that has a monthly cost of $28,366. The new station is 15,183 square feet and was approved by the Board of Commissioners with construction due to begin in the spring of 2017,” Wolf wrote to Conklin.
The letter was written to Conklin just more than two weeks after Wolf visited the Happy Valley LaunchBox in State College, and said that he has no knowledge of the consolidation plan.
On Wednesday, Wolf’s office told the CDT that the letter was written by the governor and the PSP informed him of the decision to consolidate the barracks after the comments he made at the LaunchBox.
Tarkowski said Friday that the hearing in Philipsburg is the “next step in the process” of determining if the consolidation will happen, but he could not verify who scheduled the meeting or why the PSP and the governor’s office are releasing different information.
“We want to make it clear that residents will continue to receive timely, comprehensive service,” Tarkowski said. “The Pennsylvania State Police is committed to providing the same quality, professional police services the residents of Centre County expect.”