The city of Versailles plans to build a new police department on the property of the old St. Leo Catholic School.
The nearly 2-acre property at the corner of North Main and Elm streets was recently appraised at $400,000. The city council has a contract to buy the property and has the cash for the purchase.
Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott called the site “a gateway to downtown.”
“We’ll be able to do two things,” he said. “We’ll be able to do a little downtown beautification by putting a state-of-the-art, architecturally sound building there. And we’ll be able to put our police department in the first new police station that the city of Versailles has ever had.”
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The property was used as a Catholic school from 1965 to 2010, when the parish opened a new school next to its church on Huntertown Road.
In January 2016, the Catholic Diocese of Lexington sold the property for $319,000 to a company called CKS LLC, owned by Tim Cambron, Jack Kain and Fred Seitz. Cambron is president of Ruggles Sign Co., a Versailles manufacturing company; Kain is a car dealer; and Seitz owns a horse farm outside Versailles.
At one time, Tom Post, the owner of Castle Post on U.S. 60 between Lexington and Versailles, had a lease-purchase agreement on the St. Leo property, but he is no longer involved with it.
Under a contract with the city, CKS will pay for demolition of the former school and a two-story brick house formerly occupied by nuns.
Meanwhile, Traugott has appointed a committee to discuss the design and construction of the police building. The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for March 15.
The committee is composed of city council members Ann Miller, Owen Roberts and Mary Bradley; Police Chief James Fugate; officer John Wilhoit; evidence custodian Nathan Craig; and dispatcher John Long.
The price of a new building is not known, but a bond issue will be used to finance its construction. Georgetown paid for its new police headquarters, which opened in 2015, through a $5 million bond issue.
“I would hope we could move in at the end of 2018 or early 2019 at the latest,” Traugott said.
Versailles police operate out of city-owned buildings across the street from the Woodford County Courthouse. The buildings, dating to the 1800s and owned by the city since the 1970s, share a common wall but don’t provide much space.
The department, which has 42 sworn officers and 10 dispatchers, nearly doubled in size in 2004, when it and the county police department merged. That put more officers into the same cramped quarters.
People who enter the building from Court Street walk into a small vestibule and are greeted by a dispatcher behind a window.
“For those folks who might be reporting something sensitive, you don’t want them within earshot of a person who is paying a parking ticket or asking for directions,” Fugate said.
Property in evidence is kept in a separate building in Big Spring Park near the police department. Some records are kept in yet another location.
“It would just be nice to have everything together,” Assistant Police Chief Mike Murray said.
Traugott said someone has expressed interest in buying the current police buildings once the department has moved, but he wouldn’t identify the party.