Police site: Back to Pacific?

Expansion of the station here would be too expensive, according to the latest police recommendation.

Expansion of the station here would be too expensive, according to the latest police recommendation.

If Albany voters eventually approve construction of a new police headquarters, it now looks as though it will be built on a site off Pacific Boulevard as originally planned. The police would rather stay where they are on Jackson Street, adjacent to the jail and Linn County Sheriff's Office, but buying the land necessary for the expansion is proving a problem.

Chief Mario Lattanzio laid out the situation in a memo that went to the city council Friday along with the agenda for the council's meeting on Wednesday, July 23. "The cost to stay at our current location is continuing to increase," Lattanzio wrote. "Even though the police department would prefer to be located adjacent to the Linn County Sheriff's Office for a number of benefits, the increase (in) costs associated with staying at this location is too high. I recommend we vacate the idea of building at our current location and continue with the process to build on the Pacific Blvd. site."

Albany bought nearly four acress off Pacific north of 29th for $860,000 in 2009 as a police station site. The city's Public Safety Facilities Review Committee, though, recommended this spring that the city try to buy land to remodel and remodel the station at its current address if the costs proved similar to building at the new site.

Two weeks ago the department asked the council for the OK to negotiate a purchase of the necessary land, but the council had questions about the suitability of the site. Since then, the chief said in his memo, one of the two owners whose land would be needed for an expansion plan known as Option 2 raised his price by a quarter-million dollars.

"Initially both property owners in Option 2 expressed an interest to sell their properties," the chief wrote. "One gave a price with a desire to move quickly and the other provided a rough estimate of a sales price. Our estimate two weeks ago to likely purchase all of the properties in Option 2 was $1,850,000. This week the second property owner from Option 2 sent us an email indicating a quarter of a million dollar increase in the purchase price of their property from our initial estimate. The cost for acquiring that property is almost double the assessed property value. The cost for acquiring the properties in Option 2 would now be around $2,100,000."

In addition, to have enough space for expansion over 50 years, the facilities committee wanted more land known as Option 3. Two of those three owners didn't want to sell, and the third asked for 40 percent more than the assessed value, according to Lattanzio.

The council could seize the land for the police department under eminent domain and let a court set the price, but it is reluctant to do so, especially since another site is already in hand. So unless the Option 2 owner drops the asking price, the police will move. If the voters agree to foot the bill, that is, which they'll likely be asked to do in 2015. (hh)


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