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Cost of retrofitting City Hall will likely go to public vote

After four years of discussions, ideas and plans regarding the future of the city’s police and municipal court facilities, Beaverton Police Chief Geoff Spalding is confident a proposal to retrofit the existing City Hall on Southwest Griffith Drive is on its way from concept to reality.

“I’m excited about the pace at which we’re moving now,” he said on Tuesday afternoon. “After being involved with this project beginning four years ago, I’m feeling like it’s truly going to happen.”

That feeling appears to be shared by the City Council, which unanimously authorized $415,000 in funding to hire architectural firm Mackenzie to redesign the City Hall building at 4755 S.W. Griffith Drive. The plan would consolidate all police, court and emergency management services under one roof.

The authorization, which passed 4-0 in Councilor Betty Bode’s absence, kicks off a multifaceted project to shuffle, expand and renovate the city government’s key facilities. With the city’s administrative offices set to move into the city-owned South Office Building at The Round at Beaverton Central by next summer, renovations and seismic retrofits for the 27-year-old Griffith Drive building could begin as early as next year.

Before that can happen, police officials need to see a design and construction price tag and seek voters’ approval through a bond measure.

Capt. Jim Monger, the police department’s project manager, said they don’t want to toss around figures until the architectural design plans are complete.

“When we’re ready to start taking this to the public, we want to be as accurate as we can,” he said on Tuesday. “We’re focused on this location. When we know what the (architectural) plan is, we’ll have the ability to obtain that building cost number.”

Holly Thompson, city program manager in the mayor’s office, anticipates having design information to present to the public before the end of the year.

“By December, we hope to share with the community models of what the remodeled public safety center will look like,” she said.

Cost estimates are expected by early 2014, and the bond measure could be put to voters as early as May, the first scheduled election in Washington County for next year.

With the council’s contract approval on Tuesday night, Mackenzie, formerly Group Mackenzie, will receive $350,000 for architectural services, with $40,000 devoted to contracted project management services with Gerding Edlen, the city’s master developer, and the remaining $25,000 for other specialized engineering, surveying and planning services.

A five-member subcommittee of the Public Safety Center Advisory Committee chose Mackenzie for the project.

Other sites and concepts to accommodate public safety needs were considered — including a comprehensive civic center facility near the Beaverton City Library and replacing the City Hall building with a new structure — before a retrofit of the 79,000-square-foot city building was chosen as the most cost-effective path.

An earlier space needs study by Mackenzie indicated consolidating all courts and public safety departments — including two leased locations to accommodate training and evidence storage, respectively — would require a little more than 100,000 square feet.

“The (City Hall) structure itself doesn’t provide quite enough space,” Monger said, “but part of the architectural study will determine how to best use the existing footage and as far as additional space, what’s the best way to add that on.

“We’re so used to working in a crammed area,” he added.

While it could be challenging to convince the public that a building with additional space and safety features is a crucial investment, Monger and Spalding are looking at the larger picture.

“We need to prepare for the future and the additional people who will be living (in Beaverton),” Monger said. “The police staff and court staff have to grow along with it. Retrofitting the building is the most cost-effective measure of all the options we’ve been looking at.”

Keeping citizens informed as the project unfolds remains a key priority.

“This is a huge project, and we’ve got to be very careful every step of the way that we’re doing it properly and using taxpayer money wisely,” Monger said. “We’ll have public involvement from as many points as we can, including the Public Safety Advisory Committee. We’re going to have a lot of eyes on it.”

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