This morning I went to City Hall and picked up a CD that contained public record documents I'd requested.
It was a citizen activist pleasure to pay $24.43 to learn how much the City of Salem is paying the DLR Group for architectural services related to planning for a new police facility.
The answer is... $142,127 for the original contract signed in September 2015. See:
Download 145145 Architectural Services for the Salem Police Facility
Plus a possible $20,000 additional for analysis of a fourth police facility site (the original contract required analyses of just three sites). This is how much DLR Group proposed; I don't know if the City of Salem has agreed to pay the $20,000. See:
Download Salem Police DLR Group Add One Site 151223
Along with many other people, I've been following the meandering path of police facility planning for quite a while. The tangled often-chaotic history can be read about on a Salem Community Vision web page that contains newspaper stories and blog posts (including mine) on this subject.
This is the third try -- or second "redo" -- at planning for a new police facility. To some extent the efforts have built on each other, but mostly the redo's have been marked by significant shifts in direction.
First try was from 2010 to 2013, as described in my "City of Salem planned new police facility in backwards way." With no citizen input, a $70 million plan for a new police facility at the Civic Center, plus seismic upgrades/renovations, was revealed at a City Council work session in June 2013.
Second try was spurred by strong public opposition to the Civic Center site. Mayor Peterson formed a City of Salem Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Police Facility, chaired by T.J. Sullivan. Jake Davis, a DLR Group principal, spoke about this "redo" in a June 2015 letter I came across in the original contract file.
Dear Selection Panel,
It takes courage to take a step back in the process of building a new police headquarters in order to take a confident step forward. But that's what the City did by seeking input from the Police Facilities Task Force on its initial public safety plan, and we laud you for that.
OK. I said much the same thing a few months before Davis spoke about "take a step back" in my April 2015 post, "Salem's Police Facility Task Force makes progress by going backward."
Sometimes going backward is the best way to start moving forward. That's what happened last night at a meeting of the impressively-named City of Salem Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Police Facility.
(I'm still waiting to see a Red Ribbon or Yellow Ribbon Task Force; will its members feel inferior?)
... So after almost five years of unproductive planning -- see my previous post, "City of Salem planned new police facility in backwards way" -- the task force wisely decided to basically start over.
Third try, then, is what DLR Group has been doing since September 2015, working with a City Council subcommittee. Again, with no citizen input.
Last month DLR Group unveiled its sizing plan for a 150,000 square foot police facility, which the subcommittee approved. Interestingly the above-mentioned June 2015 letter from DLR Group principal Davis says:
In December of 2014, at your invitation, Justin Stranzi and I told the Police Facility Task Force that we believe a modern facility for a large department like Salem's should expect to be closer to 90,000 square feet than the 75,000-square-foot floor.
Others have suggested larger. Which number is correct? The City has arrived at a critical juncture to identify the ceiling or, more accurately, a sensible mid-point for needs, and it has a mandate to zero in on the right answer. Good work has been done, and we're not here to reinvent the wheel. We're here to help.
Well, since all of the DLR Group/City of Salem third try planning was done behind closed doors, the public doesn't know how the current police facility plan got supersized to 150,000 square feet.
Regarding "closed doors," the City of Salem's Request for Proposals said in the Background section, "The consultant will be tasked with making presentations of work products to a subcommittee of the City Council, and one or more optional community open houses."
Those open houses never happened.
Tonight, though, the City Council will be having a 5:30 pm work session in the Anderson Room of the Library. It's expected that DLR Group will present a conceptual design and cost analysis for a police facility on each of the four potential sites.
But once again, members of the public will have to keep their mouths shut. No talking by ordinary citizens allowed at work sessions!
Eventually a public hearing will be held at a regular City Council meeting -- likely after a site has been recommended by the council subcommittee and citizens are only able to offer a thumbs-up or -down to the proposal.
The RFP Background section says:
This scope of services assumes the City is preparing materials for community outreach and Council decision-making process regarding a possible November 2016 bond measure. This scope of services is to be completed prior to the Council's decision in early 2016 regarding the possible bond measure.
If the bond measure passes and funding for construction of the facility is approved by the voters in the November 2016 General Election, the City will undertake a subsequent procurement process for design of the facility. The Consultant will be free to compete for subsequent services procured for this project.
So this reminds us that after six years of police facility planning, Salem still doesn't have a site for one, nor a detailed design, nor even agreement on how large a new police facility should be.
Regarding the last point, I'm expecting, and hoping, that City Council members who weren't on the council subcommittee will weigh in on the size question tonight, given the mysterious ballooning of the square footage from 75,000 sq. ft., to around 100,000 sq. ft. (redo #1) and now to 150,000 sq. ft. (redo #2).
(Every little square foot translates into around $300 additional cost; so an extra 50,000 sq. ft. means taxpayers are out an additional $15 million, plus bond financing costs.)