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MailTribune.com
  • Medford police building for today and for the future

  • In 2012, the Medford City Council approved the 2012-2018 Strategic Plan for the city of Medford. The plan designates the first goal of the city is "to ensure a safe community by protecting people, property and the environment." Having a safe, adequate and functional police department facility is vital in accomplishing this goal.
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  • In 2012, the Medford City Council approved the 2012-2018 Strategic Plan for the city of Medford. The plan designates the first goal of the city is "to ensure a safe community by protecting people, property and the environment." Having a safe, adequate and functional police department facility is vital in accomplishing this goal.
    The City Council unanimously voted to fund and build Medford's public safety facilities after much discussion, study and debate. The first step in this process was to ensure we had up-to-date data concerning site selection, space needs and cost estimates. The last Facilities Needs Assessment for the Medford Police Department was conducted in December 2002 and needed revision to address our current situation.
    In August 2012, the City publicly advertised a Request For Proposal to conduct a comprehensive Police Facilities Needs Assessment. The City received several proposals from local, regional and national architectural design firms.
    After a thorough review of all proposals, a selection committee, which included a City Council member, citizen representative and Police Department staff, selected MacKenzie of Portland to conduct the study. MacKenzie's results were presented to the Medford City Council at a public meeting in March 2013.
    The study examined the current space/facility needs of the Police Department as well as its needs for the next 20-plus years. National standards with comparable regional police departments were used to determine adequate size and functionality requirements. After exhaustive study and debate, the proposal was endorsed by the Medford City Council.
    The police operational facility with secured parking is designed to accomplish several needs:
    1) to provide safe transportation of in-custody suspects both to and from this facility.
    2) to accommodate parking for 150 employees who work at this facility.
    3) to provide secured parking of the department's fleet of 100 vehicles, which have both equipment and weaponry that should not be left parked unattended on public streets for extended periods of time.
    The site selected for the new police building is city-owned property on Ivy and 10th streets. Construction of the facility will remove an employee parking lot and police vehicle compound that are currently at capacity. With continued increases in demand for public parking in and around the City Hall campus, the police operational facility is not excessive as some have stated, but in reality, is a necessity. This is an important aspect of the overall security required in a police facility that will be utilized 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    It has been incorrectly stated that "in 2012, the City issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to build a new police station." An RFP will be publicly advertised in the months to come.
    The actual cost of the new police facility has yet to be determined, and the current estimates are just that — estimates. The city recently issued bonds at an interest rate of 4.42 percent, which was below the projected estimate of 4.75 percent. We anticipate the construction costs will be below the estimates as well.
    There will be many opportunities for local contractors to participate in the construction of these projects. The current Jackson County Public Health construction project adjacent to City Hall is an excellent example of this. Even with a Portland-based general contractor, Jackson County officials estimate 80 percent of the construction and 100 percent of the design work is being done by Southern Oregon businesses.
    Medford's solicitation is intended to obtain the best public safety facilities for the money, while encouraging as much local participation as possible.
    The proposed 42,300-square-foot operational facility with secured parking is designed to meet the Police Department's needs for the next 20 years. The project is well within the size and cost estimates for similar-sized cities in Oregon.
    After considerable discussion and public input, including two study sessions and a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to move forward with the police and fire construction projects. The projects will be funded through a $2-per-month utility fee increase.
    These much-needed upgrades to police and fire facilities will safeguard the security and livability of Medford. While I live in this community and am personally concerned about any financial impacts to the taxpayers, I do believe we have reached a reasonable compromise to address the current need for public safety facilities. Medford will have safe, adequate and functional public safety buildings today, tomorrow and for the future.
    Tim George is chief of the Medford Police Department.
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