Law enforcement officials, community members and others broke ground Monday night on a new $7.1 million police station in Pasco, a project that has been years in the making.
The ceremony on the grassy area on the east side of city hall comes eight years after initial talks and planning for a new station began. About 75 people attended.
Officials hope the Police Community Services Building, paid for with money from the voter-approved public safety sales tax in 2011, will be built within the next year.
“To come in at the $7 million range was just stunning,” said Mayor Matt Watkins. “To be able to do all the things they wanted to do, plus a couple other things, I think we were really glad.”
Projected costs for the station were estimated in 2014 at $14 million, a number too high for the city’s budget. However, city staff were able to work with Seattle-area designer David Hansen and Pasco architect Terence Thornhill to come up with a more efficient design that lowered costs, officials said.
The pair, with the help of city staff, were able to design a 38,000-square-foot building that was referred to Monday as simple, yet elegant.
“It’s a testament to our designer, our architect and ourselves to say, ‘what do we really need,’” said Chief Bob Metzger. “You can cut out a lot of the fluff and give us a basic building that meets our needs and can be designed to add on in the future.”
Pasco council members have shown support for the new station, saying the department has outgrown its offices inside City Hall, which was renovated in 1995 after the city bought the building from the Pasco School District.
It’s unclear how the vacant space in City Hall will be used, said City Manager Dave Zabell, who noted the city’s information technology systems also will be moving into the new station.
The police force has grown from 32 to more than 80, including non-commissioned staff, since moving into City Hall two decades ago. During that time, the population in Pasco has tripled to at least 68,000.
In 2014, the council identified building the new station as one of 17 goals to tackle over the next two years.
Watkins said the council is proud that it has fulfilled promises to use the the public safety sales tax money to build a Franklin County a new jail, fund a street crimes unit within the department and erect a new police station.
“To be able to fulfill that within about four years of the commitment for the taxes is right on the schedule we hoped for,” he said.
Metzger wanted the building to be in line with the department’s goal of community policing, he said. So, officials created a community room in the station that will be open to the public to use.
Metzger said he hopes the new station will not just be a place where the police force comes to work, but also a community gathering spot where people can share concerns and ideas, he said.
“It’s a true community center,” he said.
Total Site Services in Richland was awarded the contract to build the new station. Officials say people should start seeing major construction beginning soon.
“We have a lot of work in the next 10 months to a year to make this thing happen,” Hansen told the crowd at the ceremony.