Starting over: Silverton renews search for city hall, police department site

April 2017 Posted in Community

DSC_0062By James Day

It’s back to the drawing board in the lengthy search for the city of Silverton to find a location for a new city hall and police department building.

The City Council, as part of the consent agenda at its April 3 meeting, approved a resolution terminating its contract to purchase land from Stumptown Properties that would have been used for the municipal complex.

The 3.1-acre site near the corner of C and North Water streets, had emerged as the top candidate in the fall of 2015 after councilors eliminated a green field site on Westfield Street near the Silverton Senior Center and the Potter Automotive site at First and Lewis streets.

Ultimately, Silverton City Manager Christy Wurster said, it was the railway line adjacent to the Stumptown site, former location of the Square Deal Lumber yard, that killed the deal.

“The city has received information that the Union Pacific and Willamette Valley Railway do not have plans to abandon the railway and it will likely be used again,” Wurster said. “This is a material change in the conditions of the property.”

Wurster said that city staff will evaluate potential alternative sites, which includes those previously considered. No timetable was available on when that evaluation process will conclude or when the issue will come back to the council.

A key driver of the plan to replace the current complex, which was built in 1925, is the fact that the current police station does not meet federal and state requirements and is not built to withstand an earthquake. Earlier council discussions of the replacement project indicated a possible phased approach that would tackle the police building first and city hall later.

Wurster, who replaced the retiring Bob Willoughby in January, said that that still might be the approach but said “until we have a final site selected and/or purchased and understand our acquisition costs and time frame, it is unknown whether we will need to phase the project.”

Councilors also have expressed a strong preference for not going to the voters with a bond measure to pay for the project, citing a 2012 survey of residents that indicated “pretty clear” opposition to that approach.

During the 2015 discussions of the project Willoughby said that “if we can do it by living within our means, that ultimately is the goal.”

No cost estimates are available at this time, and no formal design has been established. Earlier discussions indicated that approximately 30,000 square feet might be needed for the building.

Councilors have discussed splitting the facilities between sites, an approach that Woodburn has taken, although there would efficiencies with the use of space and parking in a combined complex.

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