Construction of the Rose Center, which will house an expanded police station and community facilities, began earlier this month on an empty lot on Ashmun Street, located behind Swing Space.

Yale planner and engineer Bob Saidi said construction of the new Rose Center — scheduled for completion December 2005 — passed through its preliminary stages this summer and work on the structure has begun.

“The building construction itself got started a couple of weeks ago,” Saidi said. “We’ve started doing the concrete footings. We’re trying to get as much done before winter.”

Saidi said workers from the DIMEO Construction Company, the contractor hired for the project, spent the summer working on soil remediation before construction of the building could begin.

“All of the land area used to be owned by the American Linen Supply,” he said. “We discovered contamination of the soil mostly from heating oil.”

Saidi said the Yale Police Department will occupy 38,000 square feet, nearly five times the size of its current space on Sachem Street. Despite the larger facility, he said the Yale Police will not be expanding, but rather consolidating offices and storage spaces that are currently housed in a number of locations on campus.

“You can’t make a direct comparison, because what they have right now is spread all over the place,” Saidi said.

Once the Rose Center is completed, the Yale Police will no longer occupy their communications and administration offices at Phelps Hall, Saidi said.

He said the Rose Center — expected to cost under $12 million — will also house a computer cluster and a community center that includes a large meeting room and storage space for athletic equipment for a neighboring park. The Rose Center will even house a classroom for students, Yale Police Lt. Michael Patten said. Saidi said about 70 percent of the space in the new Rose Center will be reserved for the Police Department’s headquarters, with building services and community programs occupying the remaining 30 percent.

University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees police and security on campus, said the building will provide “a good opportunity” for University police officers to interact with the community.

“We are looking forward to having the new facility because it is not only a state-of-the-art police facility, but it also provides important community space as well,” Highsmith said.

Patten said more spacious facilities will allow the Yale Police to participate in more community programs, including the Police Athletic League and a mentoring program, “a cooperative endeavor” between the New Haven Police Department and the University Police.

The University hopes to generate more jobs in the neighborhood by working with the New Haven Building Trade Council to involve community members in the building project, Saidi said.

Police officers and staff at the current headquarters are looking forward to the completion of the Rose Center, Patten said.

“All our cops keep driving by there all the time looking at the foundations,” he said. “The exciting thing is that we’re moving to a new facility that is designed and built specifically for us.”