Here's another reason to vote against Measure 24-420, the second-try $62 million police facility bond measure on the May 2017 ballot:
Building a police facility in the north downtown area (on the old DeLon/O'Brien auto dealership site) goes against longstanding plans for how this area should be developed.
Salem Can Do Better lays out four other good reasons to vote NO, but this is a fairly fresh idea that just came to light for me.
I've heard criticisms of putting a large 115,000 square foot tax-exempt police facility on a prime piece of downtown land. But until someone mailed me several documents that explain why this is a bad idea, I wasn't informed enough to seriously question the wisdom of choosing the north downtown site.
Here's PDF files of what I got. My anonymous correspondent highlighted portions of the documents in dark yellow. I added some highlighting in lighter yellow. So you can scan through the documents and just read the "good parts" if you like.
Download New City of Salem Police Facility Issues
Download City of Salem North Downtown Plan
(The North Downtown Plan document only contains selected pages from the full report. )
I've also uploaded the files to Scribd, for those who prefer to look at the documents that way.
Here's an excerpt from what my correspondent said about the $62 million second-try police facility plan:
A new Police Facility is clearly needed by the City of Salem, but it needs to be accomplished in the most cost effective manner to minimize the financial impact (increased taxes) on the citizens and businesses in the Community.
...The Delon parcel is the only remaining large block of property remaining for expansion of Commercial/Retail development in downtown Salem.
The Delon parcel is designated as an Urban Renewal area so funds are available to encourage the development of more private sector jobs and subsequent property tax revenue for the city. Use of Urban Renewal funds to build a Government building or its associated infrastructure is not the appropriate use of these funds.
Development of this property by the private sector will generate many ongoing private sector jobs and an estimated $500,000 to $750,000 in new annual property tax revenue. When used for a Police Facility the property is taken off the tax rolls forever with no growth of new private sector jobs and the corresponding tax revenue.
And here's some excerpts from the City of Salem North Downtown Plan that was approved in 2000. As you can read below, the plan calls for tax-paying commercial and residential development that is much different than the tax-exempt police facility that now is planned for the 3+ acre site.
The downtown core area, as a major employment center, represents a source of potential North Downtown area residents that want to live near their workplace. The North Downtown area represents an opportunity to provide housing in central Salem that will support core area shops, restaurants, and businesses.
At the same time, the area also represents a potential expansion area for the downtown given that the core area is constrained by the Civic Center to the south, the Capitol Mall to the east, and the Willamette River to the west.
...The overall character of the North Downtown area is expected to change significantly over time. The vision for the area is a series of mixed-use districts offering a variety of employment, retail, and residential uses, including a range of low, medium, and high density housing.
...Redevelopment of the area will be driven by private investment as a result of growth in the region and rising property values.
...Approximately 18 acres of land in the middle of the North Downtown area is held in two ownerships, DeLon and Larmer. These properties provide opportunities for commercial (office and retail) development as well as high density housing uses.
The site is in a critical area as a transition area between the Broadway District, the North Core Area, and the Riverfront District. Mill Creek is an amenity and can serve as a pedestrian linkage between the riverfront and the Capitol Mall.
Yet if the $62 million police facility bond measure is approved in the May election, a large portion of the North Core area will become a 115,000 square foot tax-exempt public building with large parking areas that features, obviously, no commercial, retail, or residential uses.
I can see why the person who wrote to me is so opposed to putting a police facility on the old O'Brien Auto Group site. The City of Salem planned for this to be a mixed-use area with retail shops and a variety of residential options that would blend nicely with the core of downtown.
So if Measure 24-420 is rejected by voters, as I'm urging that it should be, one reason to vote NO is to provide an opportunity for citizens and City officials to reconsider the wisdom of building a new police facility on the proposed North Downtown site.