Rhinebeck’s new police station is an arresting sight

Village of Rhinebeck Mayor Jim Reardon gathered colleagues and residents on June 24 to mark the official opening of the new police headquarters in Rhinebeck, concluding a process that began nearly five years ago with a feasibility study in 2009.

The 2,100 sq. ft grey-and-white building, located at 14 Center Street, is directly behind the Rhinebeck Fire Hall and Village Hall. According to Sergeant Peter Dunn, the new station has a juvenile interviewing room, squad room and booking room, locker rooms for male and female officers, a training and conference room, and a one-car garage. There are 12 officers currently on the force.

“The station is already open to the public and if there is an officer in the station, the front door into the lobby is unlocked,” Dunn told The Observer. “If the door is locked, the public should use the call box located next to the door. That phone automatically dials that New York State Police Dispatch, and the state police will have a Rhinebeck officer return to the station.”

A crowd of about 50 people, mostly village employees or others connected in some way with the project, listened as Reardon recognized those who played an important role in the new station’s completion.

In his remarks, Reardon, who is chief of police as well as mayor, thanked the police officers for their patience. The department had been operating out of a 10-by-40-foot trailer for the past 45 months until the station was completed.

“[They were] like sardines in a can,” Reardon said. “Not once did they complain, they always stayed committed to the job on hand and made the best of a bad situation. They are ultimate professionals. This new station is well-deserved and, as your chief, I thank every one of you for what you do for this community and for your patience during this project.”

“Today, we dedicate this facility to all the members past and present of the Rhinebeck Police Department and we thank them for their dedication and commitment to the people of Rhinebeck,” he continued.

The police station was originally housed in the basement below the Fire Hall before moving to the Hall of Health building at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds for 14 years. That building was eventually determined to be structurally unsound, according to Dunn, so the department then moved into the trailer for almost four years.

Several members of the Fairgrounds staff were on hand and Reardon thanked them for hosting the police department. “That building was provided to the community at no charge,” he said, “So I want to thank the fairgrounds for their help and support over the years and we look forward to a good continuing relationship with them.”

Reardon also recognized the members of the village planning and zoning boards, saying, “These people were instrumental, we went to them for guidance. It was a great collaborative effort.”

He particularly singled out Phillip Zemke, of Rhinebeck Architecture and Planning, who designed the building. “We feel [the new station] fits the character of the village, we’re very proud of the way it turned out,” Reardon said.

The construction, which began in September 2012, was funded by a $900,000 bond, which will cost Rhinebeck property taxpayers about $60,000 annually for 20 years.

State Senator Terry Gipson, who served on the Village board when the project was first designed, also attended the event and addressed the crowd.

“I have to say, when I first came into it, I was one of those that was on the fence about whether this was the right thing to do or not. But when I look at this police station, unlike many of you, I don’t see a building. What I see is a symbol of how many different groups came together with many different opinions, different political parties, sat down at the table and figured out what was the right thing to do. It’s a beautiful building and it’s going to provide a valuable asset here for our community,” he said.

Reardon finished by recognizing six village board trustees who were involved in the development of the project from the beginning, including Gipson, Brant Neuneker, Heinz Sauer, Heath Tortarella, and Howard Traudt. He gave special recognition to Wayne Rifenburgh who served as deputy mayor and trustee for three years before resigning his position after moving from the village to the town of Rhinebeck.

Reardon said that Rifenburgh was involved in the project from the beginning and stayed on after his move in a volunteer capacity to help complete the project. “He put an awful lot of time and effort into this,” Reardon said.

“This project has been an incredibly rewarding experience,” Rifenburgh said. “For not only me, but I think for the community. During this whole process, we were very fortunate to have a planning board and a village board that worked together to make this happen.”

With the ceremony concluded, Sergeant Dunn and village trustees both past and present gathered behind a red, white, and blue ribbon and with little delay, cut it, officially opening the station to the public.

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