All of the Loyal Opposition candidates question council’s decision to build a new home for the city’s police force and Fifteenth District court. “We don’t have enough money,” says mayoral candidate Pat Lesko. “We didn’t have enough money when they put together that financing package because part [of it] is predicated on the sale of a parcel of land owned by the city [the former parking garage site at Washington and First] that was at the time judged to be worth $3 million. That land will never sell for $3 million now.”

Incumbent John Hieftje disagrees. “If it [the sale] doesn’t go through this time, we’ve committed $150,000 from the general fund to cover [one year’s worth of the anticipated revenue]. But we’re confident it will go through.” The apartment building approved for the site may or may not go through, but the developers, Village Green, at least are confident enough to request an extension of their option on the property, which council approved in June.

While the district court has to leave its current rented space in the County Courthouse, Lesko sees no reason why it needs a completely new building. “Dennis Dahlmann offered the City Center Building to the city for less than $10 million, and I don’t know why the city turned it down,” she says. As for the police, Lesko has a simple solution: “We have fewer now. They would fit in their current facility.”

“We’ve been looking at designs for the new police-courts building at least since ’99,” Hieftje responds. “It all came to a head when Bob Guenzel [then county administrator] sent us a letter telling us to move our courts out because they wanted to move their juvenile courts there.”

The mayor says the city looked at many possible locations, including the City Center Building. But “the federal government has very strict [security] requirements for courts and police headquarters now,” he says, “and it would cost more to retrofit them than it would cost to build a new building.”

As for the AAPD, chief Barnett Jones doubts his force–most of which is currently housed at the Wheeler Center at Stone School and Ellsworth–would fit back into their old facility. “We were scattered all over that old building,” Jones says, “and if they tried to put us back in there, we would have to take up three floors. Where are you going to put everybody else?”