Pasco City Council approves plan to pay for new $8M police station

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldJune 2, 2014 

Metzger Pasco Station

Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger stands in the grassy field just east of the city hall parking lot where he hopes to use the public safety tax to build a new 38,000 square foot police station.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

The Pasco City Council approved a plan to pay for the city's new police station at Monday's meeting.

The city will use a 15-year bond to cover the cost of the $8 million facility, to be in the northwestern part of ball fields east of city hall and the current police station. The bonds will be repaid using the three-tenths of a percent public safety tax passed in November 2011.

Pasco had to cut back on original plans for the building after costs ballooned to $14 million, which the tax would not have been enough to cover.

In a separate vote Monday, the council officially hired Pasco architect Terrence Thornhill to design the new police station. The city paid him $24,500 in April to determine if the police station could be built within the lower budget. Now that he has shown the council and staff that it can, his firm will get another $550,000 for the design.

A preliminary plan that Thornhill showed council last week features a three-car garage for vehicles taken for evidence, open workstations instead of enclosed offices, and less-expensive lighting.

The exterior of the building will be primarily comprised of metal panels, with some brick masonry at the entrance to convey stability and permanence, according to Thornhill's plan. It will also have sun screen devices above the exterior windows to provide shade.

The police station will be situated in a way to allow for an open space between it and other buildings in a possible future city government campus where the ball fields now are, Thornhill said.

The building reminded Councilman Saul Martinez of newer Tri-City architecture, such as the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center in Richland, which Thornhill also designed.

Police Chief Bob Metzger is excited about the project, he said.

"I'm extremely pleased with the architect we have," he said after the meeting. "I think it's time, and it's a good project."

The police station opened with city hall 20 years ago in the renovated old Pasco High School, but the city has grown from a population of less than 25,000 to more than 65,000. Pasco has around 70 police officers and some cramped lockers in hallways.

Mayor Matt Watkins thanked voters for helping the city add more police officers, municipal court space and room for police with the public safety tax.

"I think the $8 million facility is a right-sized facility," he said. "We've done pretty good as a city that has more than doubled in population and just now has outgrown the facility built in '94."

The design is expected to be completed Dec. 1, with construction going to bid early next year, Deputy City Manager Stan Strebel said. The city hopes to start construction in March or April 2015.

Also Monday:

-- The council approved a $280,000 contract with Portland-based Kittelson & Associates that will look at access on and off Interstate 182's westbound lanes from Road 68. Design of the right turn lanes is expected to be finished in spring 2015, with hopes to start construction in the summer or fall. The work is in addition to a project that will bring improved traffic signals and medians to Road 68 and Burden Boulevard. Construction is starting on that project this week.

-- The council approved a special tax lien against Liberty Theater owner Octavio Rodriguez to recover costs from demolition on unsafe parts of the theater after a fire gutted the building in August 2013. The fee of $27,456 is $1,932 less than what the city initially wanted to charge Rodriguez, because officials determined that some of the fees he was being charged were from firefighting efforts on public streets and sidewalks.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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