Construction is underway on a new station for the Wasilla Police Department.

On Thursday, the city held a ceremonial groundbreaking at 801 N. Wasilla Fishook Road, the site of the old Iditarod Elementary School.

The $12 million project is forward-funded through a voter-approved, 1% sales tax increase that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. The tax sunsets on Dec. 31, 2019. According to the city’s project website, nearly $7.4 million has been collected as of March.

“We believe if we’re going to build something we should pay for it, not our kids and our grandkids,” Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle told the crowd gathered for the groundbreaking.

WPD currently operates out of a building that used to be a bank. Officers said the dispatch center takes up the entire top floor, and that leaves little room for the rest of the department.

Lt. Chris Watchus said the new station will be double the size of the current one, and its more centralized location could improve response times.

“The plan is to hire more police officers; we’re going to need more space," Watchus said. "Where we’re at right now currently patrol officers are sharing desks, we’re storing equipment on shelves. It’s just not a good fit any more for us.”

Construction is scheduled to be complete by June 2020.

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