A possible merger of the Athens Borough and Athens Township police departments is closer to becoming reality after the Bradford County Commissioners approved a feasibility study on the topic during Thursday’s meeting.
During a monthly meeting held virtually on Thursday, Bradford County Commissioners agreed to pay the Central Bradford Progress Authority $15,000 “to develop a feasibility study for the consolidation of municipal services for Athens Borough and Athens Township.”
Bradford County Commissioner Daryl Miller stated that the feasibility study is being completed “at the request of those municipalities working through the Progress Authority.”
When asked if “municipal services” includes the Athens Borough Police Department and Athens Township Police Department, Central Bradford Progress Authority Economic Development Manager Chris Brown confirmed that law enforcement will be the first municipal service to be considered for a merge.
“The first municipal service is the police force, other municipal services will be looked at as well,” Brown stated.
Brown explained that the $15,000 allotted to the study will help the Progress Authority develop both a site plan and a utilization plan for a building that a newly merged Athens Police Department could be based in.
The new building was formerly a Williams Company property, according to Brown.
“After the study we will have a plan for the municipal services that are efficient and able to be consolidated,” Brown said.
“(The feasibility study is) looking to understand what the efficiencies are and if it is more efficient to close down those buildings (the Athens Borough and Athens Township police departments) ... however what this feasibility study will do is determine whether or not that is (an) appropriate and feasible action,” Brown added.
Brown stated that while “the exact staff” that will carry out the feasibility study “hasn’t been identified yet,” the team will be composed of individuals from both the progress authority and outside contractors.
Brown estimated that the feasibility study will be completed within the next three months.