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Let’s broaden the discussion | IN OUR OPINION
Officials from the city of Bainbridge and the Bainbridge Island Fire Department held their first public input meeting this week on the still-evolving idea of creating a joint-use facility that both police and firefighters could call home.
The meeting was led by the consultants in charge of the design effort, Mackenzie, Inc.
The firm has been charged with identifying the conditions and limitations of the existing police station, developing requirements for future facilities and proposing design concepts for future facilities.
In addition to looking at a combined facility, Mackenzie’s assessment will also consider the potential of the two departments sharing a site but occupying separate buildings. The consultants will also explore the possibility of a stand-alone police facility.
While attendance was sparse at this week’s meeting, with just two dozen or so residents in the crowd, the proposal stands at a crucial point.
Few should doubt that the existing facilities, both for Bainbridge police and the fire department’s headquarters station on Madison Avenue, are inadequate for the services supplied by each department and are seriously outdated.
But as the community continues to talk about how the new facilities should be designed, we also hope that both the city and the fire department will start a parallel conversation on how the new building, or buildings, will be financed.
The estimated cost of a new joint facility, of course, can’t and won’t be determined until later in the design process.
Public officials, however, should start to share the broad contours of how exactly they propose to pay for the new police/fire station. Voter-approved bonds? Non-voted bonds?
Such a discussion should also include the timing of such a request to voters, if that’s the direction that’s ultimately decided, with considerations given to other potential requests for bond measures that may be pursed by the school and parks districts.