A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A ‘fresh look’ at police, fire projects

Written January 28th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
Only some of the committee members would fit in this shot.

Only some of the committee members would fit in this shot.

Albany’s plans for a new police headquarters and downtown fire station will get a review of all the angles, from whether they are necessary at all to where and how they might be built. That’s apparent from the first meeting Tuesday night of a review committee co-chaired by former state Sen. Frank Morse and retired Linn County Sheriff Dave Burright, who together picked the other 15 members. (One member, contractor Ron Reimers, has dropped out, leaving a panel of 16.)
The panel intends to meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. One member, county administrator Ralph Wyatt, estimated it would take three to four months to reach a recommendation to the Albany City Council. If that proves right, the council could put a new bond proposal on the ballot in the November general election.

The council created the committee after voters last fall rejected a $20.3 million bond issue to pay for most of the costs of two projects: replacing Fire Station 11 on an expanded site, and building a new police headquarters on vacant parcel off Pacific Boulevard and Willetta Street. (Burright said he himself did not vote for the bond because he wanted more detail.)

Asked why they thought the bond had been nixed, panelists offered several theories, among them that the projects were linked instead of considered separately, the city planned to use a design-build contract, and voters were not given enough detailed information.

The members also listed questions they intend to answer to their satisfaction: Should the projects be sited where the city intended or somewhere else, how were the proposed locations chosen and by what criteria, could the existing buildings be remodeled or expanded, is the new buildings’ proposed size justified by projected population growth, and how is that growth estimated/

Panel members each got a stack of material nearly an inch thick, copies of reports the city council had received over the last few years before trying for the bond issue in 2013. All agreed with a suggestion by Morse to reach their recommendations by consensus and to vote only when consensus could not be reached. They’ll also tour the police and fire stations, and perhaps similar buildings elsewhere in the region.

Burright summarized the task ahead: The panel will take a “fresh look” at the city plans without any “preconceived notions.” (hh)

Members of the Public Facilities Review Committee: Ralph Wyatt, Martha Wells, Buzz Wheeler, Tom Cordier, Dave Reece, Frank Morse, Dave Burright, Geoff Berg, Chris Norman, Sharon Edwards, Greg Roe, Skeet Arasmith, Bill Ryals, Pat Hagerty, Janet Steele and Mike Martin. (Steele and Martin missed the inaugural meeting.)

8 responses to “A ‘fresh look’ at police, fire projects”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The challenge for this committee is to avoid becoming Don Quixote, where he “jumped on his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”

  2. Greg Storms says:

    How can the city not ask for a bond for the fire station if they are already committed to buying the properties on either side of the current station?

  3. Jim Clausen says:

    Buying the property next to the existing facility is a tactic used to pressure a decision in the direction they want. – pure and simple. “Well we’ve already bought the property, we need to use it” will be the reason for continuing on. The mayor and city council are pushing their agenda by manipulating the facts to conform to their vision. They know people won’t want to “waste” the money already spent.

    It’s a tactic often used by those who want a decision made in a specific direction. One step at a time – it’s a progressive thing.

    How do you feel about being manipulated to make a decision? I, for one, don’t like it.

  4. Craig Ziegenhagel says:

    The Powers that be will do what they want in the end. Citizens already voted it down, the week later the City purchases the property…and then does this. Just like in Salem; the downtown Convention Center… Citizens by a good majority voted NO, we dont want it built. The City did it anyway. I am pro Police and Fire, but, too many people out here are hurting financially, the economy is flat –no growth, unemployment here is still bad… Maybe taxpayers just cant afford to pay any more.

  5. Bill Kapaun says:

    Maybe the citizens can force a vote on selling the acquired property the city purchased for the new police station they want? That would take the decision out of their hands regarding THAT location.
    I think their goal is to move the police station away from a central location so they can proposition for a 2nd location. More city employees equals more (union) voting power.to get their way.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Highly unlikely, Bill. Having sat through city budget sessions over more than 40 years, here and elsewhere, I’ve never seen a city council eager to add to the cost of a department just so they can negotiate contracts with a bigger union.

  6. Bill Kapaun says:

    I doubt they really care what things cost, since they just pass it on to the taxpayer.
    I’ve sat in on a couple Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee meetings and the underlying theme is your tax money is theirs to spend. When I mentioned prudent spending, I got looks like I was “on something”.


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