Albany is getting close to picking the designs for its proposed new police headquarters and downtown fire station. Two separate plan-review committees are to make their recommendations to the city council on Nov. 12. And the following night, a special citizens task force on public safety facilities will discuss financing options, including a $20 million bond issue that voters would be asked to approve next May.
I reported on the design proposals from competing architects here on Oct. 29 and showed the three designs proposed for the new police headquarters, to be built on a vacant site on Southwest Pacific Boulevard. This week I finally caught up with the drawings showing the concepts for replacing the fire hall on its present site at Sixth Avenue and Lyon Street. (It wasn't hard. All I had to do was ask for the drawings at Public Works in City Hall.)
Two of the fire hall proposals are based on closing Sixth at Lyon so the bigger station can be built across it. The third -- and most expensive -- is by CB Two Architects and keeps Sixth Avenue open. It would remodel the existing Station 11 and use it to house the Albany Fire Museum, now based on 34th Avenue. The new Station 11 would be build on the north side of Sixth.
Cost estimates for the Station 11 replacement, including "soft costs," are $7.5 million for the design by Pack Smiley Ettlin Architects; just under $8 million for a proposal by Mackenzie; and $10.6 million for the concept submitted by CB Two.
Together, depending on which plans are picked, costs for the fire station and police headquarters are estimated to range from $21.3 million to $25.6 million. The city council, acting as the Albany urban renewal agency, has agreed to pay $1.4 million toward the combined project from downtown urban renewal funds.
The special public safety facilities committee on Nov. 13 will talk about another city contribution from the money left over from Albany's Pepsi-Gatorade settlement. The committee will also review the possibility of a $20 million bond issue, which would cost a total of $33 million over 20 years and result in an annual tax rate of 37 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value during that time.
Assuming such a bond issue is approved and sold, it and the CARA contribution would be enough to cover the cost of both projects if the least expensive options are chosen. Picking the costliest options for both fire and police stations would require spending around $4.2 million from the Pepsi settlement or some other source. (hh)