HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany bond update: Public engagement promised

Written October 21st, 2013 by Hasso Hering
The police department would go here, on the west side of Pacific Boulevard.

The police department would go here, on the west side of Pacific Boulevard north of 29th.

The ballots in Albany’s police and fire bond election have been in voters’ hands for days — or on their kitchen counters with the stack of bills, or wherever else people stash the mail they will deal with later. To count, ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. Nov. 5, so it’s kind of late for the city council to do anything more about encouraging a favorable outcome. But on Monday it tried.

The election is on a $20.3 million bond issue to cover most of the costs of  building a new police headquarters on a vacant parcel on the west side of Pacific Boulevard SW just north of the Professional Plaza, and replacing the main fire hall, Station 11 at Lyon and Sixth, with a modern building on the same but larger site.

At Monday’s work session the council voted unanimously to provide for a public process, such as hearings or open houses, before some details of the proposed projects are nailed down. Councilor Rich Kellum had proposed an advisory committee of experts in the building trades to watch over the projects. But the election would be over by the time such a panel could start meeting. Instead, the council voted to provide a process of “public engagement,” in the words of City Manager Wes Hare, in the preparation for the buildings if the bond is approved.

The city intends to use a design-build approach, and the council also agreed to form a committee from members of the public to help review proposals from companies submitting proposals.

One issue not up for review: Where the projects are to be built. Because of response times the fire station must be in or near its present location, even though negotiations for the added property required are not yet finished. And the location for a future police headquarters was decided when the city bought the Pacific Boulevard site for $860,000 in 2009. (hh)

From Jim Engel, a comment received Oct. 21 in response to an earlier bond issue update: I’ll agree both stations need replacing. I will come down against the “chosen site” for the police station. Just because the city owns it now doesn’t make it the right spot! That area is served by two narrow streets, SW 29th and SW Willetta. On that corner there is the large medical office complex and bank branch both of which already have probably 100-200 vehicles a day coming and going. Has any thought been given to officers responding through that congestion? And the number of vehicles the police office will generate?
Placing the office in the far SW is not the best idea from my experience. Was there any effort to negotiate with the owners of the apartments adjoining the current police station? Could a land swap (for the SW property) be figured in? Whatever happened to the idea when the current station went in of its being designed for a second floor?
No firm square footage figures have been given for either building. NO drawings or models of the proposed buildings have been offered. This “give it to us because we say so” attitude by the council is one more reason my vote is “no.”

From Councilman Rich Kellum:  Let me make a couple of points:
Egress — besides 29th and Willetta, Pacific Blvd. would also be available with a combined entrance with the northern neighbor.
There would not be models of buildings at this point with design/build. It is the design teams within the contractors that propose different designs, not the city. We get to choose.
And finally, it is my understanding that the numbers for the apartments next to the current station were crunched. It was cost prohibitive.
This is not my first Rodeo. I have been in business for almost 30 years. The folks around the table, including staff, are making the correct sounds — concrete not marble, steel not ebony,   strong, practical, low interest rate, better service, less rented space for other city staff. Got my vote,



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