Kalama Police Need a New Home
Our officers have made it work, and continue to do so, but they need to have a safe and adequate facility to serve the citizens of this community properly. The police provide 24/7 coverage for the citizens. In the last several years Kalama’s crime rate has dropped to the lowest in the County due to the efforts of the dedicated officers and staff.
City staff and officials have looked at many sites in the downtown and surrounding area and after much consideration as to the costs of purchasing and/or preparing the sites available, it became apparent that the cost was too high. So, they looked at property they already owned, including improving or adding on to the new City Hall Building. Due to the building’s age and the cost of the renovation and space limitations this also was very costly and still didn’t provide an adequate space needed for a growing department. Police Chief Randy Gibson brought the idea of the space at the north end of town known as Maruhn Park and that it could be large enough to fit an adequate facility while providing superior access to both north and south areas of the City via I5. Not ideal as it is a park area, but as such is underutilized. The City decided at a public meeting that with a cost savings to the taxpayers of anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000 the site at Maruhn Park would be best for the community and promised to retain the monument and a small park area on the upper level of the Park.
With a site picked the City could now get a design and have used reserved funds to cover that cost. The design is necessary in order for the City to present an accurate cost to the taxpayers in making a request for a tax increase. By law the City has to put all projects of this magnitude out to bid for both design and then for construction. We are required to pay prevailing wage rates for all the construction. This makes the costs go up versus what a private property owner may experience. A police facility has special needs for safety for not only the officers and staff but for the public, as well as needs to meet requirements for prisoners, evidence and confidentiality. The estimated total cost of $2.7 million is high, but the City made decisions to help keep the cost as contained as possible, by utilizing the property if owns and keeping the building at one story. The City will work to contain the costs as much as possible as the project progresses. Any of the other options considered have a $2 million plus price tag as well. No matter what option the City needs to ask the taxpayers to fund a new facility. The sales tax increase will help to cover a portion of the cost and the bond request of $2.2 million is based on the use of those funds to cover the total costs.
The police officers have provided excellent coverage, support and protection to the citizens of Kalama. In order for them to maintain that quality of service and to retain the dedicated staff, the City needs to provide them a new home that will let them work in a safe, secure environment while allowing them to grow along with Kalama.