Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Portland Road this Week: Action Plan and Police Siting Committee

Meetings on Portland Road and the Police Station area also in the neighborhoods this week.

On Thursday the 12th, from 5pm to 7pm at the Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality, 3850 Portland Rd. NE, there will be the final late winter Open House to solicit ideas and feedback on the Portland Road Corridor Strategic Action Plan.

Already the City "at your service" has poached $1 million in urban renewal funds for a stormwater project that was supposed to be funded privately by business and/or developers. After what looks like a City error in failing to bring forward the project's terms when the property was sold and changed hands, the City appears to have caved and funded it publicly.

Still being debated
So it remains to be seen how focused the City will be on the actual street conditions, the ways storefronts and businesses greet the street, and the way non-motorized travel is prioritized.

At least theoretically there remains a bit more than $20 million for the project, and to do it as originally envisioned is estimated at about $30 million - so this is a big value-engineering project.

We should not lose sight of the ways facilities for people who walk and bike are so much cheaper than facilities for people driving!

On a map, Portland Road looks like an easy and direct way to the Kroc Center and to the new technical school.

On the street itself, conditions are anything but inviting and comfortable.

Let the City know they need to change this! You can also email City staff here.

The Police Station

While the "Blue Ribbon Committee" has been meeting since November, it hasn't been as much an inquiry and investigation as it has been the end of a sonata, a restatement of previous themes, reworked and developed somewhat, but nonetheless introducing very little in the way of truly new material. It's been just one giant "recapitulation" of he said, she said.

So there hasn't been anything new to say here.

The most interesting part was back in the fall, when folks toured the supposedly "perfect" Eugene facility. Notes from the tour describe problems with it:
  • Short on parking
  • Unclear site or building support needs for future
  • Didn’t have sufficient funding to do it right
  • Frequently cited: “would rather have had it this way” on tour; lots of clumsy space, wasted space (interior design could be managed much better); layout did not consider adjacencies or workflow
  • Will have continued expense to make building work
  • Weak security features
  • Inefficiency associated with being separated from other functions, scattered around town; no savings with consolidating operations
  • Technological inefficiency, compared to Keizer
  • Hard to manage multiple locations
  • Stuck in building indefinitely
Critics of the Civic Center site still point to the supposed "perfection" of the Eugene site as a model, but it sounds like it's far, far from perfect, and that there are real structural problems with the Eugene model.

"Cheap" might just be cheap.

At the same time, the need to build a parking garage for police vehicles at the Civic Center site really adds to the cost, and this alone is a meaningful reason to be very wary of the Civic Center site proposal.

From here the "Blue Ribbon Committee" has offered no additional clarity and failed to make a case for either the Civic Center site or a Eugene-model facility. It's just been bureaucratic churn.

Rose Gardens/Epping Parcel (not latest cost estimate, however)
At this point, it's still just throwing darts, but you know, Northgate has been passionate about advocating for the Epping/Rose Gardens site. So you have a neighborhood that is shouting to the Police, "pick me, pick me!" A site this far from downtown has already been ruled out - but maybe it should be revisited seriously?

Detail from Action Plan Area Map:
The Rose Gardens/Epping property is central!
It seems like spurning such neighborhood interest is a little cheeky. Why couldn't you have a smaller central precinct downtown, nearby or at the Civic Center, and have the main station where a neighborhood is pleading for it? The Epping/Rose Garden site is also on Portland Road, and it seems obvious there would be synergies with the Portland Road Action Plan.

There will be some travel inefficiency introduced by a site in the north half of town, but at least then you have located Police where people actually seem to want Police, are begging for Police. And by leveraging the Portland Road Action Plan, other "externalities" might become features rather than remain bugs.

The Committee meets tonight. Here's the meeting packet.

Here are SCV notes on it (largely critical of the City's efforts).

The meeting is Wednesday the 11th, from 6:00 - 8:00 PM, at Broadway Commons, Rm. 205 (Keizer Room), 1300 Broadway NE.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

Police Task Force chairperson, TJ Sullivan sent out two documents in preparation for the meeting tonight. One was the letter of invitation to potential members that outlined the purpose of the Task Force and the other was a summary of what the group has apparently agreed on so far. Both are enlightening.

Preliminary Review Draft: January 29, 2015
Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Police Facility

Task Force Charge

- Letter of Appointment
Advise the City Council on options to deliver the Council’s goals for a new Police Facility

- Council Goal for Public Safety, 2013-15
Pursue a bond measure for a new public safety facility and seismic improvements to the Civic Center.

- Council Subcommittee goals for the Police Facility, 2010-11
• Build a new centrally located modern Police headquarters, in close proximity to the Civic Center for the safety of our
entire community
• Strengthen the Civic Center buildings against earthquake and security threats to ensure an additional 40-50 years of
useful life
• Eliminate or reduce deferred maintenance on Civic Center buildings
• Improve structural safety of the Salem Public Library
• Enhance Civic Center visitor experience and accessibility of visitor parking

- Task Force Discussion, Minutes: October 22, 2014, approved unanimously
• Is a new Police Facility needed?
• How Big Does a New Facility Need To Be?
• Where Could a New Facility Be?

Susann Kaltwasser said...

Part Two of Police Task Force

Decisions To-Date
- Approved unanimously, Task Force: October 22, 2014
Motion: The Salem Police Department needs a new Public Safety Facility.

- Approved unanimously, Task Force: November 14, 2014
Motion: Recommend the City site a new police facility within 1.5 miles of the current facility.
Motion: Recommend the City site a new police facility in a central location that allows for good deployment of Police and reasonably efficient communications with other functions at City Hall.

Motion: Recommend the City Council move forward with a design and siting of a new Police facility that supports the Police Department in their endeavor to operate to the highest standards of professionalism and effectiveness.

The new facility should incorporate all of the functions of the Police Department, the EMS [9-1-1] call center, and the Municipal Court.

- Task Force Discussion, Minutes: December 22, 2014, approved unanimously
The group appeared to agree, by consensus, with one member’s summary of the discussion: COPs [certificates of participation] do not appear to be a good use of taxpayer resources; using COPs would require cuts in services that may not be palatable to the community; and the voters will want a say in this issue.

- Task Force Discussion, Minutes: January 15, 2015, draft
Following the discussion, the Task Force was in general agreement that:
• Two bonds would be preferred (either concurrently or sequentially);
• The sites recommended for the new Police facility should not include the Civic Center site;
• The seismic cost is known but the cost of the Police facility is contingent on the site and design for that site.

Preliminary Review Draft: January 29, 2015
From the Experts
- Task Force Discussion with DLR Group, Minutes: December 2, 2014, approved unanimously
Appropriate Size, Structure
• With 150 or more [187] sworn officers and a civilian staff of more than 200, Salem would be in the “large” police department category. The next tier up are “very large” in size, such as Portland or Chicago. Once a force reaches 300 sworn officers, the discussion often turns to precincts to serve the larger sized community. For a centralized ‘large” department like Salem, with the added complexity of being in an urban environment with a
street crimes unit and other specialty units, the International Association of Chiefs of Police suggests a range of 300-700 square feet per sworn officer as a standard. The range depends on the mix of officers and service teams for a community. A 70-90,000 or 100,000 square foot facility would be in the range of what we’d expect
to see for a department of Salem’s size with its complexity of offerings.
• We’ve seen some success with “shelved space” – space that is built from day one and moved into over time.
Additions to these types of facilities are complicated by what you are adding onto (the structure) and what’s growing into them (the functions). Additions can work if they are planned very well in the very early stages.
• If you’re growing at about two percent each year, we’re talking about short-term type of growth. You’d build in space you might need in the short-term but you may not furnish it until you need it. What grows most in police departments is evidence. Evidence in the best thing suited for building expansion. However, patrol officers, who are in the building the shortest amount of time, require significant space for lockers, duty bags, and other equipment.
Design of these spaces is important for efficient work flow. Technology also drives growth. Technology is not making the spaces get smaller. Cars are packed with more equipment and the officers carry more equipment.
• We’re not advocating that it should be on one floor, just that the complexities around workflow and adjacencies are
important to consider.
• Structured parking is not less functional that surface parking.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

Part 3 on Police Task Force

Retrofit Existing Building for Police Use

We have retrofitted two existing buildings into police facilities recently. Both of the one-story, industrial buildings worked because they were the right kind of structures on the right kind of sites with the right kind of utilities at the right time. Both were almost entirely new buildings and certified LEED Gold when complete. One was a much bigger, a subtractive renovation, and the cost was on par with what we would expect from new essential facility construction.

Cost of Construction
Cost of construction, inclusive of hard cost and site cost (not site acquisition), depends on scale and could be in the range of $245-250 per square foot to $320 per square foot – with a mean of about $275 per square foot.

Screening Criteria for Alternative Site Analysis
- Council Subcommittee Meeting: November 1, 2011
Site Size: 4 to 10 acres
• Building Size: approximately 75,000 SF; three stories optimum for Police Department use and workflow (or
• adjacencies)
• Parking Needs: approximately 210 spaces for secure fleet parking, visitors and employees
Location Considerations
• Geography: central location for emergency response, reduces daily travel time to Civic Center and Municipal Court
• Arterial access: located on an arterial street with access to all directions for emergency response, increase visibility
• Frequency and location of calls for service
• Neighborhood compatibility and impact to adjoining uses

Other Considerations
• Past use of facility, environmental concerns
• Urban Renewal or redevelopment potential
• Removal of property from tax rolls; property under State ownership mitigates removal of property from tax rolls
• Environmental or permitting issues (such as wetlands)
• Re-use of existing buildings (cost to bring to current standards for essential public service seismic requirements)

Susann Kaltwasser said...

BTW, Police Siting Committee is a misnomer. They are definitely NOT going to select a site. They are at best going to recommend a criteria for finding a site. This point was made totally clear tonight by the Mayor.

Jim Scheppke said...

Sorry to hear that Susann. The Mayor is leading this entire process down a dead end.