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New police station construction starts next week


A groundbreaking ceremony is set for 11 a.m. Thursday, March 7

Construction of Gresham's new police station in Rockwood is set to start with a groundbreaking ceremony from 11 a.m. to noon Thursday, March 7. If all goes well, the station could be open by the end of the year.

The $5.5 million station at 675 N.E. 181St Ave. is being funded through bonds made possible by Gresham voters who almost 10 years ago approved creating the city's first urban renewal district in the West Gresham-Rockwood area.

“It was a promise that we made to our constituents when they approved urban renewal,” said Gresham City Councilor Lori Stegmann, who grew up in Rockwood and has an insurance office there. “I think it will be great.”

Mayor Shane Bemis agreed.

“Perhaps the most important element for the community in the Rockwood Urban Renewal Plan was an increased police presence in this critical part of Gresham,” he said. “I could not be happier to see the Urban Renewal Commission delivering on this goal in a tangible, permanent way. The Rockwood Police facility will be highly visible, community-oriented, and will increase the neighborhood’s perception of livability and safety.”

Designed by Group Mackenzie, a Portland-based architecture and design firm, the two-story 12,000-square-foot building will face busy Northeast 181st Avenue where the shuttered Kasch's Garden Center used to sit.

"It provides high visibility and more police presence, which is what Gresham residents have been wanting," said Gresham Police Chief Craig Junginger.

The Rockwood Public Safety Facility will save time and money by providing a closer home-base for officers who respond to calls from the Rockwood West-Gresham area — the city's most densely populated area that generates the highest percentage of police calls.

Now, they all work out of the department's bursting-at-the-seams space at Gresham City Hall on Northwest Eastman Parkway between Division and Burnside streets.

It's so crowded, residents routinely sit down with officers in the lobby to report crimes or other questionable activity, along side registering sex offenders or people picking up seized property or paying to release an impounded vehicle.

Junginger said about 10 percent of the department's staff will move to the new building, including the traffic and gang units, as well as property and evidence technicians.

The building will include a community room and a temporary booking facility complete with holding cells where inmates can be housed before they're transferred to the Multnomah County Detention Center in downtown Portland.

But a lot of the space will be used to store property and evidence that by law must be preserved for a certain number of years — or as is the case with homicides, forever. Having city-owned space instead of leasing a warehouse to store it in will save the city about $100,00 a year, Junginger added.

The new police station is the latest high-profile building to begin construction in the Rockwood area, joining a new courthouse, a social service hub called the Rockwood Building, as well as a major overhaul of the Rockwood MAX station at Northeast 188th Avenue.

"It's another cornerstone that can act as a catalyst for development in Rockwood," Junginger said.