The Hanford Police Department is preparing for a logistical nightmare as it works to deal with a widespread termite infestation in its main building on Irwin Street.
Capt. Karl Anderson said workers discovered the infestation a few weeks ago while remodeling an office in the basement of the police station. Since then, several walls have been opened, sprayed with pesticide and repaired.
Anderson said piles of sawdust came pouring out of the affected walls. The city is currently getting bids from contractors to address the larger infestation.
Late last year city maintenance staff began sweeping up what appeared to be sawdust in an office on the ground floor. The material was later found to be termite droppings. At the time, city officials said the infestation appeared in the one office.
“We’re in the planning stages to have the entire police department tented for termites,” Anderson said. “That’s the only way we’re going to be able to stop the damage.”
One of the affected rooms formerly housed an old electric generator, which had sat dormant for years. The city removed the generator last month.
Hanford police Chief Parker Sever said the police station was built with an intended 25-year life span.
“It’s really what you expect from a 45-year-old building,” Sever said. “You’re going to encounter these types of issues.”
The building will have to remain tented for about three days, which will require finding a temporary home for essential emergency services like patrol, police records and dispatch for police and fire.
Adding to the complexity, the 40-foot communications antenna on top of the department will also have to be removed to make way for the tenting.
“We’ll have to get that craned off the roof and then have another location for our dispatch center to be able to access an antenna that will be able to broadcast our signal,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the city will likely coordinate with the Kings County Sheriff’s Office to use dispatch equipment at its emergency operations center.
Anderson said it’s unclear how much it will cost to exterminate the termites. In addition to the actual extermination, the building will require 24/7 staffing for security purposes.
“I’m guessing it’s not going to cheap,” Anderson said.
The Hanford Police Department has been working for the past couple years to purchase properties surrounding the main building with plans to eventually create an enclosed compound. City officials have previously estimated it would cost about $20 million to build a new police station.
Sever said Measure K, which will appear on the June 7 ballot, would provide enough revenue to give the city some options for the department’s future.
“It gives us the ability to make a plan,” Sever said. “It’s a starting point.”
Measure K proposes to keep Kings County’s sales tax rate at 7.5 percent by replacing a quarter-cent state tax that will expire at the end of the year.
The tax would generate about $4 million per year for local public safety agencies. Hanford’s police and fire departments would get about $1.25 million would go to Hanford’s police and fire departments for additional facilities and staffing.