Maybe Salem, Oregon's Mayor, City Manager, and City Councillors are so entralled with their desire to spend $400-600 million on an unwanted, unneeded, and unpaid for 3rd Bridge, they've come to look upon wasting $40 million on some unwanted, unneeded, and unpaid for Civic Center projects as small change.
But to taxpayers, this is real money. Money that will come out of their pockets.
I find it amazing that the City is pushing an ill-considered plan to build a hugely expensive new police building on the Civic Center site without seriously considering much cheaper alternatives -- like Eugene did.
Geoffrey James, a local architect with lots of experience in urban planning and large development projects, has persuasively laid out the City of Salem's follies in an easy-to-read "Analysis of the proposed $70 million to $85 million Police Addition plus seismic retrofit."
This is the standalone PDF file:
Download Civic Center Analysis
Check out the images of how the Civic Center looks now, how it would look during work on the City's proposed construction, and how it would look post-construction according to this rough sketch prepared by a consultant on a $54,000 contract (which didn't involve any citizen participation).
James' analysis describes how wasteful this plan is. And, astoundingly, how it is merely based on a student project by a group of University of Oregon students, who engaged in exactly zero involvement with the public.
SO, SEE ABOVE ... THIS IS THE ROUGH SKETCH OUTLINE SUPERIMPOSED ON AN AERIAL PHOTO. There was no involvement of the people of Salem.
YOU WILL SEE THE FOLLOWING IMPACTS ON OUR CIVIC CENTER ...
1. PEACE PLAZA IS REDUCED IN SIZE
a. sculpture is removed
b. plaques are removed
c. grand staircase is removed
d. Peace Mural is removed
e. all mature trees are removed
Peace Plaza for a while becomes a hole in the ground while a basement parking garage is constructed below.
2. MIRROR POND BECOMES A DRAINAGE SWALE
The Police Addition is shown being built partially on the lake.
Mirror Pond is drained and a series of drainage swales and paving is constructed.
3. CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS IS DEMOLISHED
It is in the way of a Police Parking Garage but the reason given is it needs seismic strengthening.
4. COUNCIL CHAMBERS IS REBUILT as an East Wing of City Hall with Public Works offices, and Courts. This removes ALL the mature trees at east end of Peace Plaza, and the grand staircase.
5. POLICE PARKING GARAGE is constructed underground all the way from Mirror Pond to the Library. Designed to accommodate 210 cars. The rule of thumb is $20,000 per parking space. So $40 million?
What isn't crazy, though, are two non-controversial goals: seismically retrofit the current Civic Center and move the Police Department to a larger building.
However, these goals can be accomplished at a much lower cost than the $85-90 million taxpayers likely would end up forking over for this bloated project.
James' analysis says:
The Salem Police Department is housed in the basement of City Hall, which needs seismic reinforcements, so the first responders would be trapped when the building collapses in the anticipated 9.5 earthquake.
They have 28,000 sq.ft. and need 60,000 sq.ft. Eugene Police Department had an identical situation, so Eugene bought a 60,000 sq.ft. building with 200 parking spaces. That project opened in July and cost under $17 million.
So the question is ... why consider the Mirror Pond site if the project will cost $70 million ? Note that $10 million of that is for needed seismic reinforcement.
So, Eugene decided it would cost double or triple to add on to City Hall, and chose what their police chief calls "the perfect solution", a building with parking, in a good location, off an arterial and a freeway.
Salem could do the same.
There is no need to spend $20,000 per underground police department parking space when there are unoccupied buildings with large surface parking lots which could be renovated for a new police building.
The savings can be used to pay for a seismic retrofit of the Library, which somehow was omitted from the City of Salem's renovation plans for the Civic Center.
Shows where the focus of our City leaders is: they made sure to plan for a new earthquake-proof City Council meeting room, but neglected to budget for improvements needed to protect Library patrons and staff when (not if) the Big One hits.
Head over to Salem Community Vision and give them a Facebook "like." Formed by Geoffrey James and other concerned citizens, the group has this laudatory goal:
Salem Community Vision is the people of Salem Oregon working collaboratively to help plan our city improvements in local government, facilities, neighborhoods, livability, prosperity, and citizen involvement.