Although moving day is nearly three years away, staff and troopers working at the cramped Michigan State Police post in Rockford say the transition to a new building in Walker is long overdue.
“We’ve gotten a little bit creative with the space in this building in order to accommodate everybody,’’ said Trooper Chris Gerard as he walked through the iconic brick building at 345 Northland Drive NE.
It’s home to the Rockford post and sixth district headquarters, which oversees operations in 14 West Michigan counties.
Rooms in the basement, on the main level and on the second floor are bulging at the seams.
The garage has been eliminated; it’s now home to an evidence room. The basement once held a locker room; it’s been modified into a three-person office.
“We just don’t have the room,’’ Gerard said. “We’ve got people who are cramped.’’
State lawmakers in December approved spending nearly $57 million for a new building to house Michigan State Police headquarters in West Michigan, including a new forensics lab. Forensics operations work out of a building on Fuller Avenue NE in Grand Rapids.
About half of the new, 100,308-square-foot structure will house the forensics lab, according to a House Fiscal Agency report. The project also includes parking for 310 vehicles.
It is destined for land near Four Mile Road and Walker Avenue NW in Walker and should be ready for occupancy by December 2020.
As in all real estate deals, location is key. The new site is much closer to Int. 96, Int. 196, U.S. 131 and M-6, Gerard said. When the post was built, Northland Drive was the main north-south route in the Grand Rapids area.
Troopers are charged with patrolling freeways and state highways; being closer to those routes makes sense, Gerard said.
“The troopers here out of the Rockford post, we work the Grand Rapids area,’’ Gerard said. “That’s probably 90 percent of our complaint work, so we’re going to be much more efficient in what we do from that new location.’’
The move, he said, will be bittersweet.
“We’ve been here in Rockford for a long time,’’ Gerard said. “Our relationship with the community in Rockford has been excellent.’’
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