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Marple Police Chief: Drug Arrests, Burglaries Way Up

Drug arrests and burglaries for the first six months of 2011 are nearly at 2010's totals. The new emergency services building was also discussed at the Board of Commissioners meeting on June 13.

BROOMALL–On Monday night at the regular meeting, chief Tom Murray warned the board that burglaries and drug arrests have risen sharply in the area in the past year.

Murray said that there have already been 15 burglaries and 38 drug arrests through May of this year, compared to 17 and 42 for all of 2010. The chief added that their concurrent rise is no coincidence, as theft is one of the two crimes most closely associated with drug use.

Murray said marijuana and heroin seem to be the drug of choice for Marple's mostly young drug users. The latter has been especially problematic in the township, where there have been nine overdoss deaths since 2006, and roughly 20 instances where there was an overdose but the user received medical attention and survived.

In the face of this growing problem, Murray said his advice for parents is simple: be a parent.

"Know what your kids are doing. Know who their friends are," he said. "Kids are kids, they're gonna test the waters. Peer pressure is a very, very strong thing."

Murray added that his department was monitoring the burglaries closely as well. They've been in contact with area pawn shops, cross-referencing their new goods with recently stolen items. Murray said this approach led to an arrest a week and a half ago.

New Emergency Services Building Estimated at Most $15M

In other board business, the . and Casaccio Architects presented the board with a power-point pitch to build an estimated $15 million emergency services facility on a lot on the corner of North Malin Road and West Chester Pike. The board voted to get a more concrete estimate on the cost of the facility.

The campus—whose three buildings would house the fire company, the , a police station that would include a courtroom (the latter of which is yet to have a thorough cost study performed, but is assumed to cost no more than $4 million), and a public courtyard—would take 30 to 36 months to build, according to architect Lee Casaccio.

The plan, originally considered by the board a decade ago, was derailed when a more ambitious iteration was estimated to cost $23 million.

In the newest version, the fire house would cost $7.4 million, the police station $4 million, the ambulance corps $3 million and $600,000 for a township building. With the sale of properties those facilities are presently on, a capitol campaign and grants, it's estimated those costs could come down to $11 million or, optimistically, $10 million.

According to finance director Edward O'Lone, under current market conditions, paying for the facility with a 20-year loan would increase property taxes on the average assessed home of $200,000 to $122 a year.

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