Dedicated observer that I am of our "public servants" at the City of Salem, I eschewed staying in the sun this gorgeous afternoon and ventured into Room 220 at City Hall, where the Mayor and City Manager oversee their kingdom.
Topic of the day for a City Council Police Facility subcommitee: an update on police facility planning efforts.
Thankfully, the meeting only lasted about 40 minutes. This felt much better than the 3 1/2 hour City Council work session on the police facility a few weeks ago that fried my brain and frustrated my patience.
This time Mayor Peterson seemed to be keeping track of what was going on.
At the previous meeting Peterson presided over the goings-on for about three hours before coming to the realization that I and seemingly everybody else in the room found obvious: that the entire discussion at the work session to that point had been about a downsized 125,000 square foot police facility rather than the original 148,000 square foot plan.
Today City Manager Steve Powers said that consultants and staff are working on a revised site plan and cost estimate for the 148,000 square foot, $81 million option that excludes the Mill Creek Medical Plaza building adjacent to the O'Brien site north of downtown -- the chosen location for a new police facility.
The alternative 125,000 square foot, $70 million option leaves out the regional 911 Center (Willamette Valley Communications Center). It's pretty clear that the Mayor and some city councilors still have the hots for including a much larger 911 Center in the new police facility.
However, Powers made some statements about an upcoming staff report on the 911 Center that showed the "build new" option is going to come out looking economically bad compared to the "continue to lease space" option.
"The cost-benefit analysis of building may not be compelling," Powers said judiciously. But he added that qualitative considerations (like, Police Chief Moore wants the regional 911 Center in a new police facility) could alter the economic equation.
Looking at the meeting agenda, I noticed that Councilor Warren Bednarz is no longer on the committee. Maybe this had something to do with Bednarz voting to consider a potential location for the police facility -- the block south of the Library -- without announcing a conflict of interest, because his family owns property on that block.
That led to a complaint being filed with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.
Mayor Anna Peterson, along with City Councilors Steve McCoid, Diana Dickey, and Chuck Bennett are the four remaining members of the Police Facility Subcommittee. McCoid was the only councilor in attendance.
I was sorry that Chuck Bennett wasn't there after I heard City Manager Powers report on progress in getting cost estimates for making the Civic Center earthquake-safe.
Bennett is running for Mayor against Carole Smith. Repeatedly he has claimed that no reliable cost estimates exist for seismically retrofitting City Hall and the Library -- a falsity that I gave him a WTF! for after hearing him say this at a Salem City Club debate between him and Smith.
Today Powers said that three studies have been made since 2005 of what it would cost to make seismic upgrades to the Civic Center so lives will be saved when, not if, the next Really Big One subduction zone earthquake hits the northwest.
One study was for the entire Civic Center; one was for City Hall; and the most recent was for the Library and associated parking structure. Bennett has been saying that the seismic cost estimates were made by some out-of-town guy walking around and coming up with a number.
Well, Powers said that this guy is the same professional estimator who is coming up with cost estimates for the new police facility. So Chuck Bennett hasn't been telling the truth about the reliability of seismic retrofitting cost figures for the Civic Center.
Architect Geoff James, a fellow Salem Community Vision steering committee member, also attended today's meeting. You can check out his report here. Geoff laid out the timeline discussed by the council subcommitee:
HERE IS THE SCHEDULE OF MEETINGS (for the calendar)
May 11: Council receive cost estimate packets.
Wednesday June 1 Work Session (assumed to be at 5.30 p.m.)
Monday, June 13: City Council: Public Hearing on Police Facility. Also on City Budget.
Monday, June 27: City Council makes decision on the Bond Measure (in November).