Four years removed from leaving, the Felton substation for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office has moved back to an office on the corner of East Zayante and Graham Hill Roads in Felton.
“We started (the move) Tuesday of last week,” said Sgt. John Habermehl, the substation’s commander.
Habermehl said that the new digs at 6062 Graham Hill Road, Ste. A, feature three offices, a conference room, and an open work area for the deputies.
The new office is in the same office complex, located across the street from Felton Bible Church, that the substation occupied from 2005 to 2009 when the county’s strained finances forced the substation to downsize to two small offices on the Cal Fire campus in downtown Felton.
“We had a great working arrangement with Cal Fire,” Habermehl said. “The time had come where we’d just outgrown the space.”
According to Sheriff Phil Wowak, a combination of reduced rent on the Zayante Depot office space, and the reallocation of some grant monies previously used to maintain a now-shuttered south county training and storage facility made the move possible.
“We’ve identified some grant funding, we had a significant drop in rent, and we indentified a funding source that’s not general fund,” Wowak said. “We looked to move back there and all the stars aligned.”
He applauded Cal Fire for “extremely graciously” allowing the substation to share office space rent-free for four years.
“When I closed the center originally, I didn’t want to,” Wowak said. “At the time, it was the highest functioning center, but it was also our most expensive.”
Both Habermehl and Wowak said that they hoped that the new location of the substation would increase the sheriff’s office’s visibility in the area, and encourage community members to walk in.
“A lot of people didn’t know where we were,” Habermehl said. “We had a significantly smaller number of walk-ins (compared to the substation’s former location).”
Habermehl said that the new substation was on the lookout for community volunteers to serve in clerical roles, as well as community service officers.
In celebration of the substation’s opening, an open house barbecue event, hosted by the Deputy Sheriffs Association is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 20 at 2 p.m.
Habermehl said that information about how to volunteer would be available at the event.
“I think we’re going to much better serve the community,” Wowak said. “I think it’s a real win.”
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