Medford police are poised to build their first stand-alone headquarters in a century.
The earthquake-resistant building is one of three major projects the city will tackle next year for a total cost of $38 million. The other two are three new fire stations and three new fields at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
The City Council on Thursday will consider a plan to hire an architectural firm and general contractor to design and build all the public safety facilities. The study session will begin at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St.
The police headquarters and a parking garage are planned for Ivy and 10th streets at a cost of $21.6 million.
Medford police Chief Tim George said the new headquarters will help better equip his officers to handle a major disaster.
"It's huge," he said. "The Medford Police Department in the last 100 years hasn't had its own police station."
For the past 47 years, the police station has been in the bottom floor of City Hall, where suspects and witnesses sometimes cross paths in the hallways, George said.
Acting Fire Chief Gordon Sletmoe said the new police headquarters and facilities to replace fire stations 2, 3 and 4 will provide a secure base of operations in case a disaster strikes the Medford area.
"Theoretically, they will be very seismically sound," Sletmoe said.
The new stations will cost $10.4 million and afford more flexibility in case of disaster or other crises, Sletmoe said.
Fire Station 2 on West Eighth Street is big enough for only one engine and one crew. Once a new facility is built at a new location, it will be able to house multiple vehicles and multiple crews, Sletmoe said.
Fire Station 3 on Highland Avenue will be rebuilt and could be moved further to the south, away from a roundabout.
Fire Station 4 on Table Rock Road will be rebuilt with an expanded drive-through bay and a larger living quarters and office area.
"The overarching desire is the safety of our employees," Sletmoe said.
The new facilities would also accommodate the city's ladder truck, which now fits into only stations 4 and 6. "We want to make sure it can fit inside any of our stations," he said.
Planning and design work will take place in the first half of 2014. Construction could begin by next summer and take a year and a half to complete, he said.
Medford residents will notice higher utility fees starting Jan. 15, 2014, to help pay for the 30-year bonds on the public safety projects.
The fee increase will start at $2 a month the first year, rising over time until it hits $4.82 a month by the fifth year. Other existing fees, such as a $2.82 street fee, will decline during that period. The net effect is that by the end of five years, the overall utility fee would have increased from $49.71 a month to $51.79.
The fee increase will raise $2 million a year for 30 years, with an interest rate on the bonds of 4.75 percent.
The council raised rental car fees to pay for the $6 million expansion at U.S. Cellular park. The new fields will be built in the northeast corner of the park, adjacent to Interstate 5, and include a larger baseball field and two smaller softball and baseball fields. An additional 150-space parking lot would be built for the three fields.
Brian Sjothun, director of Medford Parks and Recreation, said his department will be making a presentation to the council on Thursday.
He said the park project would have a different contractor than the police and fire facilities.
The police and fire facilities still require a lot of planning, but the expansion at U.S. Cellular Park is almost ready to go, he said.
"That's pretty much a shovel-ready project," he said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.