It's a day that many longtime members of the Hamden Police Department thought they would never see.
Moving day into a new police station.
But the dream is coming true this week as more departments take up residence in the new facility connected to the old Memorial Town Hall. And for many, it's too good to be true.
"I don't think it's sunk in yet," said Chief Thomas Wydra. "I think it will sink in when it's all fully operational."
And that should be by the end of the week, Wydra said. The communications/dispatch center already is functioning out of the new space, and several other offices have made the move.
And on Wednesday, moving men could be seen going in and out of the building.
The new building represents years of promises, millions of dollars and months of construction. The $40 million project added about 49,000 square feet to the old Memorial Town Hall that is dedicated to the police department, along with another 7,000 square feet of old Town Hall space, giving the department about 56,000 square feet of room to operate.
That's 47,000 square feet more than they have had in two buildings for decades, Wydra said.
"It's like a whole new job," said Det. Tom Rhone, a 36-year veteran of the force. "We were a small town before and we are a big city now -- that's how it feels."
For Donna Altieri, the move couldn't have come soon enough. As the secretary for the Detective Division, her desk was under a cupola and ceiling tiles regularly fell on her when it rained.
"It's nice not to have to have an umbrella at my desk," she said Wednesday at her desk in the new building. And often she found herself contacting Animal Control to come catch the squirrels that took up residence in the attic above her.
"If I had to point to one area of the [old] building that needed to be addressed, it was her area," Wydra said.
The two old buildings, which the department has used for decades, will soon be torn down and a two-level parking garage built in its place. Before that happens, next week any item that is left behind will be up for auction, Wydra said.
Once the buildings are empty and abatement is complete, they will be demolished, which should take place by the summer, he said.