Controversy over plans to consolidate state police services in Centre County continues and now County Commissioners are weighing in.
County Commissioners and the County Planning Office said they knew of, and conditionally approved, plans to build new state police barracks in Benner Township last year, but said they were not aware Philipsburg State Police would be included in those plans.
Officials with the county’s Planning Office said conversations about ‘Final Land Development for Rockview State Police’ started in Spring 2016 with a pre-submission meeting between their staff, the developer and other entities. In May of 2016, the ‘Final Land Development Plan’ for the new Rockview Barracks was formally submitted, a Memorandum of Understanding was approved by Commissioners later that month and after a series of other meetings and hearings, a ‘Final Land Development Plan — Rockview Pennsylvania State Police’ was presented and conditionally approved on June 21, 2016.
But what county officials make clear is the lack of any mention about Philipsburg State Police.
In an email between county planners and project engineers in May 2016, the engineer said he found out the new building will “replace the barracks by the Bald Eagle High School,” which currently houses Rockview State Police.
Commissioner Steve Dershem said consolidation was discussed a few years ago, but never came to fruition.
“Apparently it didn’t have any merit. Now, apparently, this is serious business,” he said. “I’m concerned that the folks in that community and that region up there are not going to have the level of coverage that they require. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a plan for that, but we haven’t been told.”
Land development plans for the new Rockview Barracks in Benner Commerce Park illustrate a proposed 16,000 square foot building. County records confirm the more than four-acre plot of land was purchased by Hudson Advisors on May 23, 2016 for $283,500 and has a mortgage of more than $3 million.
“You’re seeing the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” Commissioner Michael Pipe said. “You’ve got PSP saying one thing, the Governor’s office saying another thing, it doesn’t seem like the two of them are going to be on the same page with this.”
Commissioners and residents hope their questions will be answered by state officials at a meeting on Thursday at Philipsburg-Osceola Middle School. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m.