Riverside village trustees on Jan. 18 voted unanimously to approve remodeling the police department lobby in anticipation of the launch of a joint dispatch center later this spring.

The project was passed without comment as part of the village board’s consent agenda at its meeting last week. F.H Paschen Construction will serve as the general contractor.

The board approved a roughly $57,000 contract to Paschen for remodeling the lobby of the police department at 31 Riverside Road. According to Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, the work could begin within two to three weeks and be complete by late March or early April.

A similar remodeling project will be done in Brookfield. Those plans have not yet been made public.

The renovation is needed to account for the new West Central Consolidated Communications (WC3) dispatch center, which is now expected to go live in early May.

The central dispatch center will be located at the North Riverside Police Department, 2359 Desplaines Ave., and will handle police and fire emergency calls for the villages of North Riverside, Riverside, Brookfield and McCook.

That means the Riverside Police Department’s dispatchers will be rolled into and relocated to the North Riverside center. The front desk of the Riverside’s police station will be manned only during business hours Monday through Friday.

As a result, the lobby is being remodeled to account for that limited staffing while still providing 24-hour emergency access to police from the lobby of the Riverside police station.

According to Weitzel, the lobby will be entered through a new vestibule. The exterior door to the vestibule will be open 24 hours a day, but the interior door, made of high-intensity glass, will automatically lock when the weekday staffer leaves for the day.

New lighting will be installed in the lobby/vestibule area and new high-definition Bosch surveillance cameras will be installed both outside the station and inside the vestibule.

A phone inside the vestibule will automatically connect to the WC3 dispatch center, giving people who walk up after hours immediate access to police.

Weitzel said there will also be a clearly visible, red panic button inside the lobby, which, when pressed, will automatically lock the exterior door, providing a safe place for anyone who is being followed or feels in immediate danger.

There will also be a crash bar on the vestibule side of the exterior door, allowing anyone inside the vestibule to unlock that door. Or anyone who has secured the exterior door can wait there until police arrive on the scene.