New Sylva Police Department building near completion

The Sylva Police Department will move to a new location on Main Street in downtown Sylva, in a spot formerly held by the Jackson County Library prior to its move to the old courthouse.

The new building, on which construction began in July, is expected to be finished by the first week of January. It will house a training room, interview room, lobby, report room, locker room and evidence room.

The new location will allow Sylva PD a downtown presence with easy access to the area’s small businesses, which should help deter crime and increase public safety. Most importantly, the building will be larger than the previous one located off Allen Street.

Sylva Town Manager Paige Roberson said Sylva Police had outgrown their old location.

“Plans have been in place for the move for 10 years,” said Roberson. “It’s the right time.”

Waynesville, Franklin and other western North Carolina cities have made similar moves with their police departments’ buildings, with Sylva becoming the latest to adopt the trend.

“A lot of the commerce within Sylva occurs downtown, so they want a presence there,” said Roberson.

Roberson gave the total estimated cost of the new building as $885,000.

“The project is currently within that budget,” said Roberson.

Sylva Chief of Police Davis Woodard reaffirmed that the move will benefit the small businesses downtown.

“The biggest benefit will be the additional room and space,” said Woodard.

The old building, just 1,200 sq. feet, has been in use by the police department since 1989. The new building will stand at a much more comfortable 6,400 sq. feet. Additionally, Woodard stated that the overall appearance of the building will be much improved from the previous one, and where there was only a 6-by-7 room in the old building that served as a lobby; the new one will contain a proper one.

“The old lobby was a malfunction junction,” said Woodard.

Woodard also addressed concerns some had raised over the number of parking spaces the new lot will have available.

“This isn’t a concern. There are three spaces in the front with 16 in the back,” said Woodard. “It can’t get any worse than the current situation.”

The old lot only has two parking spaces, with others around back that must be shared with staff personnel vehicles, maintenance vehicles and citizens coming in and out of the police department.

Lieutenants and detectives along with the assistant chief of police will now have their own offices in the new building. They were previously required to share due to the lack of available space. In the current building, offices are only available for the police chief and for the clerk. In the new building, traffic cops will still be required to share office space; however, there will be much more room for getting work done.

The jurisdiction of Sylva police covers the entirety of Sylva’s town limits. While the Sheriff’s Department of Jackson County typically handles crime and emergencies in Cullowhee, Western Carolina University Campus Police can also call Sylva police if more back up is required for an emergency situation.

“We have a good working relationship with the Campus Police,” said Woodard. “If requested, we’re more than happy to assist.”