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Bainbridge council looks at options for new police station

When it comes to development, three things matter: what, where and how much.

Over the past few months, city officials have knocked out “what” the Bainbridge Island police and fire departments need in a new public facility.

Now officials also know it might be built in one of seven locations and could cost up to $17.7 million.

Consultants said they began their review by putting Bainbridge police first. Officers have long complained that their current headquarters, in an old cinderblock building on Winslow Way that once was a fire hall, is too old and too small.

“Our charge from the city was always really focused on what makes sense for police and taking a look at first if there is a chance at locating police next to city hall,” said Rich Mitchell, the managing principal for the project.

Consultants from Mackenzie, Inc. — the firm hired to assess and conceptualize a design for the new facilities — presented numbers and maps from their study at this week’s council meeting.

Overall, four out of seven possible sites were recommended based on whether more property would be needed, the parking requirements for each department, and the proximity to city hall and other essential services.

The first location would include a two-story joint fire-police station at the Station 21 site on Madison Avenue.

A municipal court could also be added as a stand-alone building on the same campus, the consultants said, but it would require some problem-solving to make it happen.

Aside from the facilities being a mile away from the city center and city hall, the largest disadvantage to the Madison Avenue site would be its available parking.

“We are having to jog around the parking a little bit,” Mitchell explained. “This site was previously working just right for police and fire visitors, but adding the court, we won’t really have something that works completely.”

The site as it is currently laid out would be short 19 public parking spaces.

The site does, however, provide covered parking for patrol cars and no additional property would need to be purchased.

Another option, the consultants said, was purchasing property to the north of city hall where private office spaces are currently located. Here, a joint, two-story police and court facility could be built.

The site would provide a central location and proximity to city hall, Mitchell explained.

It would also allow space for parking and a separate entry for the public.

If the council decides to go with that option, Mitchell said that the design would put emphasis on creating more of a “campus” with connecting walkways between the buildings.

The consultants also suggested the city consider purchasing less property in the same area where a  stand-alone municipal court could be located on a smaller site.

With this option, the city could continue shaping a design for a joint police-fire station on Madison Avenue where Station 21 is currently located.

Another way to pursue a joint police-fire station design, Mitchell added, is to place a stand-alone court building to the east of city hall.

The city would not need to purchase any property in the area, since it owns the strip of land through the market plaza.

If this option is selected, the court would be built just adjacent to city hall and would not obstruct the plaza space.

A two-story parking garage would have to be constructed, however, where the current overflow city hall parking stands just behind Restaurant Marché.

The consultants also noted that if this option is chosen, the city could consider still purchasing the property to the north of city hall to build a centralized police station, which would result in three stand-alone public facilities.

Three additional site possibilities were brought up Monday, but Mitchell advised the council that these were not recommended since both required purchasing large pieces of property or building a parking structure.

These included a stand-alone police station and court co-located with Station 21; a two-story police station with a court to the south of city hall where Island Fitness is currently located; and a police-court building to the east of city hall.

“I think it was the feeling of the overall team, by the time you do all of this ... you’re still a ways from city hall. It really didn’t add that much at this point,” Mitchell said.

As for costs, Mitchell and Mackenzie consultant Jeff Humphreys gave the itemized and overall price of constructing the buildings.

A combined fire-police facility will cost about $15.3 million.

If the city and Bainbridge Island Fire Department agree to construct two stand-alone buildings, the price tag could rise to $17.7 million.

This would include a $7.6 million stand-alone police station and a $10 million fire station.

The estimate does not include the potential costs of purchasing additional property.

Since the court only requires administrative space, Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith asked the council Monday to focus their energy on the needs of the police station.

“The police station is the challenge,” Smith said. “That is the piece that is really hard to fit through the keyhole. We encourage you to think about where we want to put the police and then think about where the court needs to be.”

“The court is much more flexible,” she added.

City staff will return to the discussion in July to discuss potential locations and costs.

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