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Committee hammers out size, financing for new police station

The latest Police Station Citizens’ Advisory Committee meeting had everything—station sizes, financing options and home-baked muffins.

After four hours of discussion, the committee agreed on a hybrid retrofit/new build option for a new police station, while settling on a 30-year financing plan for the parcel tax at last Wednesday’s meeting.

The committee heard different station options. One was from Claremont Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen, who highlighted why and how the current proposed station size of 26,000 was met. That number was the result of eliminating positions and reducing the sizes of offices, the jail, the community room, the fitness room and the locker room.

The goal, the chief said, was to create a station that would last for 40 years. While she characterized the fitness room as a “low priority,” any spatial reductions may have to include removal of the multipurpose room or jail.

“Any of the above reductions would have significant detrimental impact on the operations and/or the 40-year expected lifespan of the station,” Chief Vander Veen said.

Committee Chair Matt Magilke presented his case of reducing the square footage of the new police station. He said he talked to lieutenants at two nearby police departments—La Verne and Upland—and claimed both told him their stations, at 15,000 square feet and 30,600 square feet respectively, meet their needs.

He also presented a study that claimed the average square footage per officer in a police station was 347 square feet. A 16,000 square foot station, he said, would amount to 400 square feet per sworn officer, and a 26,000 square foot station would amount to 650 square feet per officer.

Chief Vander Veen questioned Mr. Magilke’s findings, saying that La Verne recently shuttered their gym to create a larger dispatch center, and Upland is having space issues with their locker room, with lockers only reserved for sworn personnel.

“I would guess the visionaries of those departments are looking at their options for the future,” she said.

Jim Keith noted a 26,000 square foot police station would place Claremont within Pomona and Signal Hill in terms of station size.

“We are not an outlier in terms of what is being requested for full time employees,” he said.

Ultimately, committee member Richard Chute opted to go for a “hybrid” model of both the retrofit option and new construction, topping off at 26,000 square feet, to meet the needs of the department.

The committee agreed, with eight voting in favor, three voting against, and two abstentions. Aundre Johnson was one of those abstentions, saying the proposed station was too much like Measure SC.

 

Financing option fleshed out

Mr. Johnson also brought back the financing option for additional consideration. When the committee settled on the parcel tax based on square footage as a way to finance the build, Mr. Johnson was unaware that would be the only financing option, he said.

Eventually, the committee voted unanimously on a hybrid model, with the parcel tax being the primary funding source and the city’s general fund and outside sources, such as grants, also contributing to costs.

Measure SC was also sort of a hybrid model, using a general obligation bond as its primary funding mechanism, with a $750,000 payment from the Claremont Colleges and $1.5 million from the city for furniture, fixtures and other “soft costs.”

30-year bond approved

The committee also settled on the bond’s lifetime: 30 years.

Under the 30-year bond lifetime, the average annual debt service would be $1,271,660, with a total net debt service of $38,149,800, according to numbers provided by the city.

This would amount to 4.10 cents per square foot of real property on a parcel.

Overall, the station will cost $22,337,865—$18.3 million in building costs, plus cost escalations through April 2022 and added contingencies for new regulations and codes, the consumer price index, tariffs, design contingencies and increases in soft costs.

The reasoning behind going for 30 years, supporters on the committee said, was to make sure the tax was affordable for younger homeowners in Claremont, as well as older Claremonters who live on a fixed income.

Mr. Keith, in his supporting statement, said the committee needed to “minimize to maximize”—that is, to minimize the annual costs to maximize approval.

Mr. Magilke was in favor of a smaller bond life, and warned that spreading it out longer would ultimately make the bond more expensive due to higher interest rates.

The 30-year plan passed, with eight voting yes and four voting no.

Station history presented

The committee also heard from resident Sandra Emerson, who gave a thorough presentation of the police station’s history, including the two past bonds that failed with voters.

Initial studies to see what improvements were needed began as early as 2001, with an evaluation completed in 2002 that suggested an alternative location would be preferable to retrofitting the current station, Ms. Emerson said.

Ten different potential sites for a police station were considered, including the Packing House site, before eventually deciding on the area north of the City Yard facility for Measure PS. The City Yard had been previously considered as a possible site as far back as 2012, Ms. Emerson’s report stated.

After PS failed, of course, there was renewed attention on the current police station site, both for Measure SC and the current measure being hammered out by the committee.

Ms. Emerson also brought a crucial visual aid with her presentation—muffins.

The next committee meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26 at the Hughes Center.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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