PHOENIXVILLE — Addressing security concerns of borough police, council voted last week to put together a request for proposal for a fence around the back of the Phoenixville police station and district court office.
Chief Bill Mossman said the back area of the police station is too open and provides safety issues for officers, prisoners being escorted from the court and members of the public.
“If somebody does some particularly heinous crime, the police officers are having to put helmets and vets on these people because there are some citizens that want to meet them and there is no physical barrier in the back at all,” Mossman said of prisoners being escorted from the court.
Additionally, he said a man with a mental health issue has been leaving different objects in the back around the station. Although the items have been benign, Mossman said they’ve led to at least one bomb scare.
“It’s just something that three o’clock in the morning, officers shouldn’t be walking out the door to,” Mossman said.
Additionally, there was some concern about press setting up in the parking lot to photograph those coming out of the court, according to Mossman.
Borough Manager Jean Krack said the potential eight-feet-tall chain-link fence for the perimeter of the police’s section of the complex has been estimated at $85,000.
Councilwoman Dana Dugan said the fence bid had “not even seen” council’s finance committee yet, so she wasn’t sure whether or not she would ultimately support it.
“We don’t even know if we’re able to afford it,” she said.
A fence was originally planned for the building when it was built, according to Councilwoman Jen Mayo, but Krack said it was eventually nixed as plans came together.
“(The borough) has spent a lot of time and money and effort to make this general area look very nice,” said Councilman Jon Ichter Jr. “If we’re going to do this, I would prefer it not be a chain-link fence and something aluminum or wrought iron. I know that would cost a little extra. If we do chain-link, I think it would definitely degrade the look that we helped to establish here.”
Brick and wrought-iron were explored, Krack said, but they would be “way more expensive.”
Krack also said he’s been exploring grants to pay for the potential project but hasn’t had much luck yet.
“They just don’t reach that level of a security fence, so far,” he said.
He plans to look into the Department of Homeland Security for grants there.
Council eventually voted 7-1 to Dugan was the lone dissenting voter. She also voted against recommending it to council in the prior police and personnel committee meeting.