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CHICAGO-Three more police stations are coming to neighborhoods on the South, West and Northwest sides, which should be good news for the officers as well as those they serve and protect. However, the site selection process has come under scrutiny before the plan commission recommended approval for all three two-story, 43,000-sf stations.

The next batch of police stations—part of a $6-billion capital program that also includes several new schools and libraries in most city neighborhoods–will be built at 3420 W. 63rd St., 3250 W. Ogden Ave. and 4650 N. Pulaski Rd., replacing mostly outdated district headquarters. “Our current station was built in 1939, and at that time, high-tech was an intercom,” notes Alderman Margaret Laurino, whose 39th Ward will be the site of the Pulaski Road station house.

However, that station’s site was questioned because of the additional traffic it would add to the north-south artery, as well as a location on the southern end of the district.

“I really don’t know if this is the geographic center of the district, but this is probably the only space for it,” observes Alderman Bernard Stone, whose 50th Ward includes part of the 17th police district.

“It’s very difficult to assemble land in the city of Chicago,” Laurino adds.

The city needed to put together sites averaging four acres for the three new stations. In all three cases, the city acquired commercial buildings or vacant lots on main streets. Police department brass also has a major say in targeting sites for new stations, says public building commission attorney Langdon Neal.

“The site is not selected without input from the (police department) superintendent’s office,” he says.

As in all zoning matters, aldermanic prerogative also is a must in the final site selection. Community meetings are often used to advance the plans, including in the 39th Ward, where residents favored the Pulaski Road site.

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