By Morgan Bryce
Construction on the future home of the city of Opelika’s municipal court and police department is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
The previous home of these divisions was constructed in 1967, with the second floor being added 10 years later in 1977. Plans for this new facility were discussed five years ago and construction has been ongoing since last August.
OPD Staff Services Capt. Ed Clark took Observer staff on a tour of the nearly 38,000 square foot structure last Wednesday and discussed the benefits of having this new facility moving forward. He noted that both divisions will see a significant uptick in space and accessibility from their previous location.
Citizens will be able to access Opelika’s Municipal Court from Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Inside, they will be greeted by a large main lobby and reception area. Municipal court judges and staff will have new offices and a state-of-the-art courtroom where sessions will be held. This will also be the future home of Opelika’s city council, planning commission and other public meetings and will have the capacity to seat more than 200 people.
Clark and Mayor Gary Fuller confirmed that the municipal court will continue operating at the Southside Center for the Arts until January or February. The city council and planning commission are expected to begin holding their meetings at the new facility later in the fall.
An additional attorney-client room has been added and the city’s two municipal judges Ben Hand and Wes McCollum will have chambers to conduct business.
According to Clark and OPD Police Chief John McEachern, the new police department will help the city make the leap to the 21st century and accommodate for the city’s ever-increasing population.
“We (all members of the Opelika Police Department) are tremendously excited about our new facility and are eager to move in! We are very grateful to Mayor Gary Fuller, the city council and the taxpayers for funding this project and for their support,” McEachern said in a statement. “The current facility is no longer capable of our needs … we’ve outgrown our workspace. The overall effect on all employees will be tremendous. We are very excited, proud and look forward to our pending move!”
Among the structure’s amenities are larger detective and staff offices as well as more spacious rooms for evidence retention, lockers, patrol meetings and more. New additions include designated spaces for a break area, classrooms for holding courses for the public like Citizen’s Police Academy and training officers, a gym and room overlooking Tenth Street that will be used for media events and press conferences.
After the move is completed in early to mid-September, Clark said the old building will be demolished to clear way for a new department-only parkign lot and K-9 facility that will be climate controlled and have larger kennels for service dogs
“The existing building for Opelika’s Police Department and Municipal Court served this community well for many years … (but) space has been an issue for several years. As our community has grown, so has our police department,” Fuller said. “We have outstanding men and women who deserve a great work space and they will certainly have that in the new facility. We’ve long had a reputation for cutting edge technology in our police department and now these officers and staff will have a state-of-the-art facility.”
For more information or updates, like and follow the city’s Facebook page or visit www.opelika-al.gov. The building’s address will remain the same: 501 S. 10th St.