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New police station: spendy but worth it, officials say

To fund a new $13 million facility, voters will need to OK $15 million bond

It’s no secret: the Forest Grove Police Department needs a new station.

Now city officials have a plan to make it happen, but not soon. It would be two years before city residents could even vote whether to spend $15 million on the project.

Built in 1977 on the corner of Ash Street and Pacific Avenue, the current facility is 14,241 square feet short of how much space police staff should have in order to function efficiently, according to Portland-based architectural and engineering firm Mackenzie, which last year provided a “needs assessment” to the city council showing the department was about 50 percent shy of its current space needs.

Mackenzie also revealed three possible options for the city going forward. The current facility can either be remodeled and expanded, or completely demolished — with a new facility rebuilt on the same site. Or, as the third option, the city could contract construction of a brand new $13 million facility at a different location.

Building a whole new facility is the option most preferred, according to city staff documents. But to pull it off, the city would need financial assistance from those who stand to benefit most from a smooth running police force: Forest Grove residents.

If voters choose to renew the city’s Local Option Levy of $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed value in the November 2017 election, the city council could consider adding a $15 million General Obligation Bond to the May 2018 ballot.

The additional funds would reimburse the city for pre-design fees to Mackenzie for site selection and facility tours, a sustainability charrette, development of concept plans and public outreach, and bond campaign assistance — all of which is set to begin in 2016.

The funding acquired from the prospective bond would ultimately pay for all services and construction, and Finance Director Paul Downey indicated money is already being set aside for the next fiscal year to cover Mackenzie’s initial pre-design and service expenses.

During an April 25 work session, Mayor Pete Truax acknowledged the need to begin the design process.

“We’ve been talking about a new police station for five years,” Truax said. “Let’s get some money behind it and get it moving.”

Sites currently up for consideration are the open lot along 19th Avenue between Main and Ash streets, and near the intersection where Highway 47 becomes Quince Street.