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February 29, 2016

Comments

Brian,
I understand why the OBrien site is coming to the top - it is for sale, centrally located, and it's big. The police station is a fit for the OBrien site, but is anyone thinking about is the OBrien site perfect for a police station? Is that really the highest and best use, or was it selected because it was big and available?

The OBrien site's highest and best use might be for market rate or workforce housing in the North Broadway. Additional housing would increase property taxes (instead of taking the land off the tax roles) and stimulate business and services in the North Broadway Mixed Use area. I am not sure the police station will do the same.

Carole, good points. I've thought along those lines also. Probably what you said should have been considered more seriously by the City of Salem and its consultants.

Along this line, I was surprised to hear someone say at last night's public hearing that if a police facility isn't built on the O'Brien site it could stay empty and derelict for decades. That doesn't ring true to me.

A Statesman Journal story published soon after the auto dealership left for another location said that the property was desirable and, if I recall correctly, probably wouldn't be vacant for long. It's such a central location, it sure seems like various uses could be made of it.

Brian do you know how much these consultants cost the city for their work? It seems that this decision could have been reached without them and just using a little community input and common sense. I wonder if the consultants were used more as a shield to be able to deflect any possible critique or criticism of this whole process.

I agree with the comment from Salamander. It would be good to have an expose of just how much the City has spent on consultants. Just in the last three years they hired ZGF Architects, Portland (who did the Capitol Wings and the Oregon Convention Center for maybe $130,000? CB-Two Architects for associated studies. Then the $30,000? Poll that told them an $80M bond measure would FAIL, then the Chicago firm DLR Group who just doubled the size, from 75,000 to 150,000 sq.ft. Now it's $82M and they had to drop the life saving seismic retrofit of the civic center, in order to build the "super-sized" police palace. Another Poll will be done (after the fact) which will surely tell them AGAIN that the voters of Salem insist on first saving lives and second building an affordable police facility. Those fees are being kept secret, but may be close to $300,000 because the Bednarz site was added to the contract. Perhaps an investigation will find that the City has spent $500,000 and these costs do not show up in the City Budget, and the Budget Committee may be unaware.

Salemander, we know that the new contract with the DLR Group consultants cost at least $142,000. It may be $20,000 more, as this was the cost of adding a site assessment for the block south of the Library -- which ended up getting zero support from Salem citizens. It's unclear whether the DLR Group "ate" this additional cost, of if the $142,000 contract was increased to $162,000. See:

http://hinessight.blogs.com/hinessight/2016/01/redo-of-salem-police-facility-planning-costing-taxpayers-142000.html

Geoff's comment notes that the DLR Group is just the latest in a string of consultants paid from some sort of slush fund at the City of Salem. No one knows what the total bill for police facility planning has been so far. Likely $300,000 is a conservative estimate; it could be quite a bit more -- especially if City staff time is included.

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