UPDATE | City will go back to consultant for more analysis on new police station

The city of Bainbridge Island will ask for more work by an outside consultant before determining where and how it should build its new police station.

The additional study, combined with work already completed by the consultants, will total roughly $77,500.

Talk about replacing Bainbridge Island’s aging police station on Winslow Way began to ramp up again last year, and the city, along with the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, hired a consultant firm to evaluate the potential for new facilities for police and firefighters, as well as a shared facility that both could call home.

Mackenzie, Inc. released its report on options for new police and fire facilities in June, and the consultants said a new standalone police station would cost approximately $7.6 million for a 19,270-square-foot building, not including the cost of land.

Cheaper together

A new combined facility for Bainbridge Island’s police and fire departments will cost $15.3 million, according to the Mackenzie report, and city officials said Bainbridge’s portion of a combined project could total roughly $6 million (not including land costs).

City officials now want Mackenzie to do additional work to evaluate the three options identified in the report for Bainbridge’s new police station. The alternatives: building a joint facility with the Bainbridge Island Fire Department at the site of the fire department’s current headquarters station on North Madison Avenue, or constructing a standalone police building at a downtown site near city hall.

Bainbridge officials have been tight-lipped in recent days about potential sites for a new police station.

City council members met last week in a closed-door executive session to discuss property acquisition, and city officials have only said that locations north and south of city hall are being considered as the potential places for a standalone police building.

According to the Mackenzie report, the standalone police station would require a 1.5 acre site with 65,590 square feet of developed area. A total of 45 spaces would be needed for parking, including 20 secured parking places for police vehicles.

According to a July 16 memo to the city council from Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith, the city wants its consultant to do additional “feasibility review and site-specific evaluation of the remaining options” before officials make a decision on the best option to pursue.

“This will provide a sufficient level of confidence that all three options are viable for consideration,” Smith wrote in the memo.

The additional consultant work is expected to cost $29,400. The cost for the additional work has not been budgeted, and a budget amendment would be required at some point by the council to authorize the additional study.

Smith, in her memo, said Mackenzie will develop a standardized process for reviewing alternative sites, and the options will be ranked to help with the site selection. She said the additional review and the ranking process could be completed by mid-September.

The city has spent approximately $48,100 so far on the consultants for the new police building.

The city’s share of the joint study with the fire department is approximately $36,100, and the city will pay Mackenzie another $12,000 for additional research to identify potential locations for a stand-alone police station.

Results from that evaluation, which were done separately from the analysis done with the fire department, were made available to city officials in mid-June.

Issues remain

In an email to the Review Monday, Smith noted that the city must be sure the standalone sites chosen as options will be feasible on issues such as parking and access, so additional evaluation was necessary.

“Certainly this process has been thorough, but that is to be expected for a project of this scope and significance,” Smith said. “In the six months since the project began, we have learned a great deal about our public safety requirements, and about what facilities are needed to support safe, reliable, and professional police services.”

“This project will deliver important results for the community, but it will also require significant resources,” she added. “We believe that the investments we make now, to fully understand the relative costs and benefits of various options, are a critical part of creating a successful project that will serve Bainbridge Island for decades to come.”

At this week’s council meeting, Smith also said the city will be conducting its own internal review to look at the pros and cons of potential sites.

“Within our own police department, will be doing in-house data analysis; whether having a community presence in town versus a little bit further away,” Smith said, “[and the] disadvantages and advantages of that.”

“What we’ll have for you in September has all the components I think we need to lay the existing alternatives against each other,” she told the council.

“We’ll have the ballpark estimates that Mackenzie has already developed. We’ll have confirmation whether all three of the options are actually viable. We’ll have the results of this site ranking process,” Smith said. “And we’ll have the feedback from the department on more community specific elements.”

Some on the council questioned whether the additional study was needed, however.

“I don’t know that I would use this in making a decision,” said Councilwoman Sarah Blossom. “I don’t know, doing this costs a lot and if there’s really a purpose of going to do it. That’s just what I say.”

Mayor Anne Blair said the work would further the discussion that’s already occurred.

“And the 300-page report, while it certainly serves as a strong basis, it may help if we, as we go back, we review some of the highlights from that report and put those in as context and background even as we consider what we learn from the conversations and the ranking,” she said.

“It will give greater opportunity for community conversation,” Blair added.

Review writer Cecilia Garza contributed to this report.

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