Police move eyed: Silverton council discusses three possible sites

August 2015 Posted in News
Silverton City Council
Meets Monday, Aug. 4, 7 p.m.
Silverton Community Center
421 S Water St.
Agendas are available.
Visit the city’s website
at www.silverton.or.us
The council will discuss
and may decide on the
location of a new police
department and city hall.

If you would like to voice your ideas,
email City Manager Bob Willoughby at
bwilloughby@silverton.or.us
or call 503-873-5321

By Kristine Thomas

Silverton Police Chief Jeff Fossholm stood in one of the police department’s holding cells, listening to a conversation between Officers Dan Thurman and J.J. Lamoreaux.

Even with his officers talking quietly, he could clearly hear everything they said.

Unfortunately, the lack of sound proof walls is one of the many problems in trying to conduct modern police work in a 1925 building.

“We recently lost a DUII case because when the man called his attorney, he didn’t have a place to make a private phone call that couldn’t be heard,” Fossholm said.

A new police department is not a “want”, Fossholm said. It’s a need.

“We have outgrown this facility,” Fossholm said. “We can no longer do our job effectively.”

There are 15 federal and state guidelines and requirements that the Silverton Police facility does not meet, including lack of sight and sound separation between juvenilles and adult offenders; not having a interview room with digital recording capabilities; problems with the booking room and intake custody area; need for more space to store records on site; unsecured parking and a lack of overall secure storage for evidence and property.

At the Monday, Aug. 3 Silverton City Council meeting, City Manager Bob Willoughby will present information on three possible sites to build a new police department and city hall. The project would be done in two stages with the police department being completed first. The sites being considered are the Westfield property by the Silverton Senior Center; the Potter property on Lewis Street and former Square Deal lumber site on Water Street.

Potter Automotive site

Potter site

The site at the corner of First and Lewis streets
is .96 acres with an asking price of $1.25 million.

Pros
• Existing parking lot
• Flat property
• Available utilities
• Centrally located to the downtown
• Could be rented until ready to build

Cons
• Would take property off the tax rolls
• Smaller site
• May be environmental concerns

At the council meeting, Willoughby said he will present the council members with information on what it would cost to purchase and build on each site, including infrastructure costs.

“There are unique costs to each site,” Willoughby said.

Willoughby said the city council doesn’t want to ask the taxpayers to support a bond measure to build a new city hall and police station.

“We did a survey in 2012 and at that time, it was a pretty clear ‘no’ and I don’t think that answer has changed,” he said. “If we can do it by living within our means, that ultimately is the goal.”

The city would require 1.3 to 1.5 acres to build a single story 30,000 square foot building with 17,000 square feet for the police department and 13,000 square feet for city hall.

By sharing a building, it would reduce costs on areas that could be shared including conference room and parking. The goal is to build a 50 to 60 year facility.

Both Willoughby and Fossholm agree the building wasn’t meant to house a police department.

In 1987, the police department moved into its current location at the city hall.

At the time, the police department’s staff was nine sworn personnel. After 28 years, the police station is in the same location of about 2,400 square feet with 16 sworn personnel and 2.2 support staff.

By 1999, the police staff and the then city manager realized the police department had outgrown its allotted space.

In 2007, the first step was taken to professionally identify the department’s space needs. The city contracted with the “Center of Public Safety” in Winter Park, Florida for a police department space needs assessment.

Former Square Deal site

Square Deal site

The Square Deal site, 600 N Water St.,
is 3.1 acres with six tax lots.
Estimated purchase price $1.2 million.

Pros
• Centrally located to the downtown
• Largest site in the downtown area
• Promotes the extension of Pine Street
• A flat site
• Utilities are available
• Would reduce blight in the area
• One owner of all the property, with
potential three renters

Cons
• Potential environmental hazards
• Next to a railroad
• Next to Bruce Pac’s ammonia storage
• Would displace three businesses

The consultant came to Silverton to evaluate the current situation and future needs space. The published report indicates the police department should be at 16,970 sq. ft for 2007, be at 18,000 sq. ft. by 2015 and 26,000 sq. ft by 2020 to keep up with the space and growth needs for a modern police facility.

Giving a tour of the office, Fossholm shared how there are four computer stations with three officers to a station. When brining in a person suspected of DUII, the suspect has to stand to take the breathalyzer test. Arrested subjects also are allowed a place while in custody to speak privately to their attorney. The department does not have a private space. The police department needs a secure parking area to protect vehicles during harsh weather including ice and snow; from vandalism and citizens and children walking through the parking lot, especially when prisoners are being loaded and unloaded.

One of the major reasons to begin work now, Willoughby said, is there is a federal mandate that requires essential services such as law enforcement services be located in an earthquake resistant structure by 2023. The current city hall is not eligible for seismic upgrades and the cost to bring the building up to current seismic standards will cost more than the building is actually worth.

“The building would be reduced to a pile of rumble if there were an earthquake,” Willoughby said.

Both Willoughby and Fossholm said in separate interviews the city staff first considered renovating the existing building, but found it would be too expensive. The staff also looked at acquiring an existing building but also found it would be more expensive to renovate a building to meet current requirements than to build from scratch.

Both Willoughby and Fossholm invite community members who have questions about the current police department to schedule a tour, to send their opinions by email or talk to one of the city councilors.

Undeveloped Westfield site

westfield

Westfield Street site is owned by the city,
which owes $660,000 on it to Silver Falls
School District. 7.8 acres.

Pros
• Owned by the city
• Largest site at 7.8 acres
• Could construct single story building
• Outside of dam break flood zone
• Lowest land cost

Cons
• Outside of downtown, on city outskirts
• Potentially higher cost for infrastructure,
including building a pump station
• Property can’t be sold to pay for
construction of the new facility
• There is a slight slope to the site

Westfield property by the Silverton Senior Center; the Potter property on Lewis Street and former Square Deal lumber site on Water Street.

Willoughby said he will present the council members with information on what it would cost to purchase and build on each site, including infrastructure costs, at the Aug. 3 meeting.

“There are unique costs to each site,” he said.

Willoughby added the council doesn’t want to ask the taxpayers to support a bond measure to build a new city hall and police station.

“We did a survey in 2012 and at that time, it was a pretty clear ‘no’ and I don’t think that answer has changed,” he said. “If we can do it by living within our means, that ultimately is the goal.”

The city would require 1.3 to 1.5 acres to build a single story 30,000 square foot building with 17,000 sq. ft. for the police  and 13,000 sq. ft. for city hall.

Sharing a building would reduce costs on common areas including conference room and parking. The goal is to build a 50- to 60-year facility.

Both Willoughby and Fossholm agree the current building wasn’t meant to house a police department.

In 1987, the police department moved into its current location at city hall. At the time, the department’s staff was nine sworn personnel. After 28 years, the police station is in the same location of about 2,400 sq. ft. with 16 sworn personnel and 2.2 support staff.

By 1999, the police staff and the then city manager realized the department had outgrown its allotted space.

In 2007, the first step was taken to professionally identify the department’s space needs. The city contracted with the “Center of Public Safety” in Winter Park, Fla. for a police department space needs assessment.

The consultant came to Silverton to evaluate the current situation and future needs space. The published report indicates the police department should be at 16,970 sq. ft for 2007, at 18,000 sq. ft. by 2015 and 26,000 sq. ft by 2020 to keep up with the space and growth needs for a modern police facility.

Giving a tour of the office, Fossholm shared how there are four computer stations with three officers to a station. When bringing in a person suspected of DUII, the suspect has to stand to take the breathalyzer test.

Those in custody are suppose to be able to speak privately to their attorney. The department does not have a private space.

The department needs a secure parking area to protect vehicles from weather, vandalism and passersby walking through the parking lot when prisoners are being loaded and unloaded.

One of the major reasons to begin work now, Willoughby said, is there is a federal mandate that requires essential services such as law enforcement be located in an earthquake resistant structure by 2023.

Both Willoughby and Fossholm said the city staff first considered renovating the existing building, but found it would be too expensive.

The current city hall is not eligible for seismic upgrades and the cost to bring the building up to seismic standards would cost more than the building is actually worth, Willoughby said.

“The building would be reduced to a pile of rumble if there were an earthquake,” he added.

The staff also looked at acquiring an existing building but found it would be more expensive to renovate to meet current requirements than to build.

Both Willoughby and Fossholm invite community members who have questions about the current police department to schedule a tour. The public is invited to send in opinions by email, or talk to one of the city councilors. The council meeting is open to the public.

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