Police station committee says study retrofit, city yard options

Plans to study adding on to the police station as well as the possibility of using the city yard site are moving forward.

The Police Station Citizens’ Advisory Committee voted to send both proposals back to the city council for approval, weeks after the council pushed them back to the committee for more discussion.

The $15,000 study on the current station will look to answer a number of questions. Those include whether or not the current station could accommodate a second floor, a point of contention among some committee members.

The study will also look at what kind of seismic retrofits would be anticipated to the existing building, how much area would have to be added, options available for providing an additional floor, space needs for the possibly renovated building, can the building be occupied during the renovation, how long it would take, the cost, site layout, how it would compare with a new building, pros and cons and steps for further development.

To answer those questions, the city is planning to draft preliminary floor space plans of the second floor based on the 2016 assessment of police needs, prepare a preliminary scope of work and a site plan, meet with the city and police department to review the plans and update them based on their comments and develop an idea of construction duration and cost.

Up to two committee meetings would be spent going over the findings, and the city council will hear the plan and provide input.

Committee member Jim Keith was not on board with the study, noting that building on top of a roof that would be seismically unsound would be a bad idea. He proposed looking into saving the current station as a one-story building and constructing a second two-story facility on the site.

“I would certainly not make this super heavy ceiling the floor of a new building and put columns up the side of it,” he said.

Committee member Matt Jones argued that a proposal to place a second floor “on stilts” above the current station would not move Claremonters to vote for it. Committee member John Jocelyn was in favor of the recommendation as a way to at least explore the option.

“We’re talking about possibly throwing around tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money,” Mr. Jocelyn said. “Spending $15,000 in order to have an option fully explored is prudent, and it is a prudent use of taxpayer money.”

The committee voted 10-4 in favor of exploring the option of the second floor. Mr. Jones, Mr. Keith, Joyce Sauter and Vice Chair Harold Gault voted against it.

The committee also recommended that the city council approve $15,000 to look into the feasibility of the city yard building as an alternative location for the police station. The committee voted 10-2 in favor.

Agenda item 4, “Committee Discussion on Direction,” took up more than the first hour of the meeting, with topics ranging from opinions about reasons Measure SC failed, to lack of trust in the community, to ways the committee can move forward.

In public comment, Douglas Lyons recommended that the PSCAC create subcommittees, where discussion is less constricted by open meeting laws, as a means for the committee to move forward with plans at a quicker, more focused pace. The emphasis of these subcommittess could be, perhaps, facility needs, location and funding mechanism, he suggested.

“I just want to throw this out there as a way to maybe move this committee forward, and to get some of the information and the solutions that you need to bring back to the full committee, so it can be assembled into a complete and coherent package,” he said.

Mr. Magilke turned his attention to the city yard building, which cost $13.3 million for construction in 2004. Funding was provided by a 17-year lease contract, which is set to expire in 2020.

The sanitation department is responsible for a $500,000 a year annual lease payment, however, Mr. Magilke said it did not come from existing revenues, but rather sanitation fees were raised three times in a 12-month period (January 2003, June 2003 and January 2004) which increased total sanitation revenues by $600,000 a year from June 2002 to June 2004.

Once the lease ends in 2020, the sanitation department must spend the money if the increases aren’t reversed. Mr Magilke asked city staff if it could be used toward financing a new police station.

He also cited the same city council agenda, from October 22, 2002, claiming the first floor could be converted to an emergency operation center.

It would be seen as a way to gain the trust of voters who voted against Measure SC. “This would get my vote, this plan would change my vote,” Mr. Magilke said.

Finance Director Adam Pirrie responded that the plan assumes that service costs wouldn’t rise in the sanitation department budget.

“On the face of it, that strikes me initially as a concern of mine with your analysis, but we will certainly do some work to take a look at it and see what we can do,” Mr. Pirrie said.

Meanwhile, work on the current station is already underway. The city has already appropriated up to $400,000 to secure indoor furnishings and other vulnerable aspects of the station in the event of an earthquake.

As for securing the outside of the building, which can cost up to $1.5 million, the city is looking at outside funding sources to pay for that, according to City Manager Tara Schultz.

She told the committee that the city is, “Talking to legislators to see if they could help us in securing that money so we can move forward with that.”

Claremont Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen also told the committee that the city is uploading and archiving all relevant data from the past 15 years of working toward the police station to a website, where it would be easily searchable for both committee members and the general public. The chief noted that the site plans to go live at the end of the year.

The next committee meeting will take place on February 20, 2019.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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