That was quick! The Albany City Council Wednesday voted unanimously to accept an offer by Linn County to buy the city’s police station on Jackson Street as well as the city-owned property where the Oregon National Guard has its armory.
The quick deal came as a surprise, at least to me. It was apparently worked out, with the county commissioners’ OK, by county administrator Ralph Wyatt and City Manager Wes Hare. Hare presented the offer to the council Wednesday night in an executive session. The council reopened its regular meeting and authorized Hare to finalize the details. City Attorney Jim Delapoer said he would look into whether a public hearing is required before city property is sold, but he didn’t think so.
The county offered the city $1,750,000 “with the sale to occur in the next few months,” as Wyatt put it in his offer. Hare said it was a good deal for the city even though the buildings’ combined appraisal totaled $2,730,000 (or $1,180,000 for the police building and $1,550,000 for the armory.)
Wyatt wrote that the offered price was discounted to account for continued use of the station by the police department until its planned headquarters on Pacific Boulevard is ready, and because the county won’t have use of the armory property until and unless the Guard moves. The Guard is using the property under a long-term lease from the city at $1 a year, but the state has talked about eventually making other plans, perhaps to consolidate Guard units.
Council members speculated that Linn County may eventually want to use the armory property in conjunction with the nearby Expo Center, a development the city would welcome.
As for the police station, the county has announced no definite plans, but its possible use in conjunction with the nearby county jail and sheriff’s office has been talked about for years.
Wyatt’s letter, dated Oct. 21, said the city benefits because it gets the money quickly and can use the funds immediately as the council wishes, including to offset part of the city’s police and fire station construction projects. For the county, he wrote, “purchasing both properties at this time is an investment to secure them for future use.” (hh)
POSTSCRIPT: Commissioner Roger Nyquist says the county hopes to use the APD building to house programs for persons transitioning from jail to freedom. Also, state Parole and Probation may move there. (The present parole and probation offices are in the state building on Lyon Street, the former downtown Sears store.) As for the armory, the Guard is hoping for a new armory on county-owned property near I-5 and Highway 34, leaving the current site on Knox Butte Road to be used in conjunction with the county’s Expo Center.