A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

City drops Jackson as police site

Written July 23rd, 2014 by Hasso Hering
Police won't expand here; those apartments in background can stay.

Police won’t expand here; those apartments in background can stay.

The Albany City Council has given up on the idea of keeping the police headquarters on Jackson Street, next door to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and jail. Instead, the council decided Wednesday to revert to Plan A, which is to build a new police station on nearly 4 acres of city-owned vacant land on the west side of Pacific Boulevard S.W.

The police wanted to stay where they are if possible. But one of the owners whose property was necessary for expanding the existing station wanted more money than the city was willing to pay, so the council voted 5-1 to go with the original plan on Pacific.

The trouble is that the voters rejected that plan once, last fall. While no one knows whether the location was decisive or even a factor in that outcome, at least a few people had publicly objected to the Pacific site as unsuitable. Chances are they’ll speak up again, and the last thing this whole project needs is more reasons — or pretexts — for voters to turn it down.

The city would have to buy an apartment house and several other parcels near the present site in order to remodel and enlarge the station. One whose parcel is essential wanted a quarter-million dollars more than his previous estimate, and Police Chief Mario Lattanzio said this made property acquisition of the essential land too expensive at $2.1 million, so he recommended that the idea of expanding there be dropped. Councilor Rich Kellum was the lone no vote. He suggested making one more attempt to get the land at a lower price, but he was outvoted.

Councilor Floyd Collins spoke in support of going to Pacific. Among his points was that in 20 years, the department would not find itself boxed in and unable to expand, as it is now.

On the other hand, while nobody said so Wednesday, in 20 years or even sooner the police may find that their new home on the west side of town — away from the jail and farther away from the growing east side — is so inconvenient that they will wish a bigger effort had been made to let them stay where they were. (hh)

7 responses to “City drops Jackson as police site”

  1. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “On the other hand, while nobody said so Wednesday, in 20 years or even sooner the police may find that their new home on the west side of town — away from the jail and farther away from the growing east side — is so inconvenient that they will wish a bigger effort had been made to let them stay where they were.”

    Considering how long it may be for ODOT to create better/more access to the east side, I’ll hazard a guess the South Albany area will grow faster over that same period of time — and the Pacific location of the PD will be more in tune with that growth to the south vs. the east…

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Does this mean the existing site on Jackson will be vacated when the new building on Pacific is completed? I hope not. What a waste of public resources that would be. What a dishonor to the family who generously donated the property to the city.

    Why not keep/use the existing site and build a smaller, but expandable, new building on Pacific to meet the 20 year need? An expandable design would avoid the “box” and meet a 50 year need.

    And did the city ever resolve the Burright/Morse committee recommendation about obtaining an access permit from ODOT? If ODOT doesn’t want to play the city’s game, it could be a showstopper.

    Hopefully the city will perform due diligence and provide answers to these basic questions. If they don’t, the council may once again be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory when it comes to the next bond measure.

  3. Bob Woods says:

    The most important thing is to not recreate the sins of the past.

    The last police station may be near the jail, but it is woefully undersized and did not allow for expansion necessary to keep pace with a growing population. That is the result of a citizenry who was unwilling to appropriately plan for the future in a reasonable and thoughtful manner.

    Decision making by slogan and ideology is a problem. Police and Fire operations are hardly a function of government that elicits a big partisan divide. Conservative, liberal, democrat or republican,there s a stunning consensus that adequate police and fire services are critical for a community.

    There is, however, another faction.

    The faction that opposes government merely because it is government. The faction that is unwilling to spend any “additional” money now, because the need is not self-evident today, even when reasonable people can see the need in the near future. The faction that sees every decision as a political tool to enforce their orthodoxy, and opposes the compromise that occurs as part of the governmental process.

    Albany has all the tools necessary to continue as a great place any only needs to focus on the rational and the reasonable, and to avoid the buzzing of the incessant naysayers.

  4. James Carrick says:

    This will prove to be a mistake on several levels and very well could nix approval of a bond for a police facility. The Pacific Blvd. site is wrong for a number of reasons if it is to be the only police facility in town. Others have floated the idea of using the existing facility on Jackson as a “precinct” purpose suitable to it’s proximity to the jail and the new site as an administrative base / second precinct situation. This would be preferable to total abandonment of the Jackson Street site and the generous donation made to the city by the Scharpf family years ago.

    This council is tone deaf and I can’t support the decisions they are making with my vote. They appear to be bargaining our genuine need for a new fire station with a poorly sited new police station. If they combine both measures again, I think it will again be defeated, and I will not support a police facility that fully abandons the current site on Jackson.

  5. Bill Kapaun says:

    It seems to me that it would make more sense to stay where they are now and build a smaller EXPANDABLE substation in the SE. part of town.

  6. Jim Clausen says:

    The council’s newest member, Rich Kellum, offered the most reasonable approach to the problem. He was also the only contrary vote.

    As the council made plain, the problem with staying at Jackson was being able to acquire needed land. The owner of the needed land had countered a city offer but asked too much for his property. Kellum asked the Police Chief if it would be a problem to make one final counter offer. According to the Chief, it wouldn’t be.

    The counter offer was simple. It would have made plain that if this new offer was turned down the city would go to Pacific. We would have known for certain that the Jackson sight was impossible. Now, we’ll never know what may have transpired.

    Kellum’s idea made sense. It was easily accomplished, was reasonable, and could have been done in a timely manner. Kellum’s thoughts were barely talked about. The council refused to really contemplate the idea.

    It was easy to tell the mayor and council had already decided on moving to Pacific. After all, the move to Pacific has been planned for many years – they’ve bought the property – they’ve made plans – it‘s a done deal. So why gum up the works by entertaining a reasonable proposal. . .?

    This is the problem with people who have been involved in government for many, many years. They’ve made up their minds. They’ve made plans. They’ve made the decisions. They get tunnel vision and can not see the forest for the trees.

    It’s time for a radical change in city governance. . . It’s time for some new blood. . . It’s time for people who are willing to be open and look at new ideas. . .

    • Bob Woods says:

      What Rich essentially did was ask the City Council to flog a dead horse just one more time.

      The rest of the Council, knowing the horse was long dead, decided to move on. Time is money, you know.

      Rich is still new and learning that making a government function better means making thoughtful but timely decisions in a process that already is much slower than what folks in the business world do.


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