Council seeks feedback on bond measure for police facility

A new Claremont police station has been on the Claremont City Council’s to-do list for more than a decade and last month during the 2015 Priorities Workshop, they took one more step towards crossing it off.

The council has asked city staff to prepare an appraisal for the land needed to construct a new facility, as well as prepare a detailed report for placing a financing measure on the ballot for voter approval.

Next week, the city council intends to open up a dialogue—and potentially the wallets of Claremont residents—as they consider advancing a bond measure for up to $50 million for a new Public Safety Facility at their next meeting scheduled on Tuesday, March 24.

Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting at city hall to weigh-in on the discussion and let their voices be heard.


Background information

The Claremont Police Department, located at 570 W. Bonita Ave., is a 9,762-square-foot concrete structure that has been operating on its existing 1.8-acre site since 1974. Outdated and lacking the infrastructure needed for technology upgrades, the station suffers from overcrowding, with female lockers located in a trailer outside, an older six-cell jail and insufficient space for staff meetings.

Following the city’s use of grant funding in 2001 to study the needed improvements to the police facility, various city committees and external consultants have been performing assessment and feasibility studies focused on the most appropriate and cost-effective locations to replace the Bonita Avenue station.

Then-mayor Larry Schroeder assembled a Police Facility Feasibility and Site Analysis Ad Hoc Committee in October 2012 that reviewed all prior research, architectural and engineering consulting studies, assessment data and reports beginning from 2002 when the city first opened a discussion about the existing facility.

The committee determined that the current police facility does not meet the Essential Services Buildings Seismic Safety Act of 1986, which requires that the building be constructed to resist the forces of earthquakes. Additionaly, the station doesn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act as doorways are too narrow for wheelchair access.

However, a new station for Claremont’s 39 full-time sworn officers and three reserve officers and numerous support staff may be closer than ever before.

A Police Department Facility Site Feasibility Report drafted in March 2014 shows the city of Claremont Corporation Yard (aka city yard) is considered to be “underutilized” and a probable location for the future public safety facility.

Option 1: The city yard

The design for this option was developed through blending new construction and adaptive reuse of the existing city yard structures to create a new police facility. The city would need to acquire 3.63 acres of land from Holliday Rock for the relocation of the office and shops currently at the city yard to construct a new building on the acquired site. A portion of the existing building would house police functions.

This option would require two phases of construction, the first being an entirely new structure to be built on the land purchased from Holliday Rock, which the city estimates will take about a year. Once completed, demolition and construction of the existing city yard structures would begin and take another 18 months to complete.

The estimated budget for Option 1, not including the land purchase from Holliday Rock, is $50,887,953, with construction completed in two and a half years following the issuance of permits.


Option 2: City yard site with Holliday Rock parcel

The second option would include the city yard site, with the addition of a parcel to be acquired from Holliday Rock. Other than the expansion of visitor parking, the city yard would remain intact.

With Option 2, the city would need to acquire 3.24 acres from Holliday Rock with all police functions built on the acquired land. The design includes a main office headquarters building constructed to meet service building act safety requirements, as well as a separate free-standing support building to house police functions, such as evidence storage, that are not considered essential during or immediately following a state of emergency.

At a projected cost of $45,305,060 without the land purchase, the project would take approximately 18 months to construct after all permitting is in place.


The voters will decide

Residents are still paying off the $12.5 million general obligation bond approved in 2007 to purchase Johnson’s Pasture, as well as the $48.9 million in general obligation bonds for CUSD’s Measure Y. With the recentl approval of up to $135 million to pay for acquisition of the Claremont water system from Golden State Water, it will be up to the voters to determine if the time is right for this project.

Claremont burglaries are the lowest they’ve been since 1999 and, for the second year in a row, the city has experienced an overall four percent reduction in Part I crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, auto theft and arson) compared to the previous year, according to the city’s 2014 crime statistics.

In January 2014, the city allocated $590,788 for the police department to purchase 12 patrol vehicles, including new mobile data computers and in-car video.

That was followed in February with the delivery of a $2 million, state-of-the-art Mobile Emergency Operations Unit, complete with a dispatch center that allows interoperability with other local, state and county agencies when staffed.

Addressing the needs of the Claremont Police Department will ultimately be left in the hands of the residents they serve.

The Claremont City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the council chamber at city hall located at 225 Second St.

—Angela Bailey


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