It almost feels like a court proceeding, with years and years of appeals.
The Bainbridge Island City Council will again look at a potential police-court facility at its Zoom meeting Tuesday night.
This time the decades-long effort will have city staff present three options on city-owned properties. The council will decide next steps in initiating a feasibility study on either the current police property, or one at the Suzuki property, or advertising bids for the former Harrison Medical Center property at 8804 Madison Ave.
A city memo says the facilities are inadequate and have been for more than 20 years.
Police station security problems include: unsecured parking; single-pane windows; open offices near entrance area; lack of alarms; unsecured lobby; no privacy in interview rooms; shared restrooms; and not earthquake proof.
Other issues: records archive room damaged by sewage leak; no locker room; unsecured communication and electrical lines; overloaded electrical circuits; lack of access for disabled; and lack of storage.
Also, additional space is needed for future needs with new staff for behavioral health, psychologists and social workers.
The courthouse was constructed as a mini warehouse, and a portion was converted in an “interim” move 30 years ago. It was remodeled in 1999 and 2015. Parking is shared with other businesses, and it’s 3.5 miles from City Hall and about the same distance to the police station.
Courthouse limitations: It holds 20 spectators, while it should hold 45; not enough parking for jury selection especially; lacks professional furniture and fixtures; poor acoustics; lacks privacy between rooms, including restrooms; lacks storage lockers for weapons; and lacks x-ray machines and other security.
The city’s Race Equity Advisory Committee requests that the city engage a qualified outside party to look at this project with a “race-equity lens” to assess the city’s policing needs and review the proposals. REAC has said more funds should be spent on social services and less on policing, especially considering BI’s low rate of crime. It has said BI does not need more police or space for police when more efforts are being made nationwide to help people before they may turn to crime.
In 2000, BI acquired the Suzuki property at Sportsman Club and New Brooklyn roads. It later determined that site was not suitable for it. The current police site, and others, were looked at after that. In 2019, the Harrison building was purchased for the use for $8.975 million. About $11 million in all has been spent over the years.
Existing site: At 625 Winslow Way E., it was built as a fire station in 1958. Pros of the site include good visibility, access to Highway 305 and ferry, limited neighborhood concerns and limited environmental impact. Cons include most expensive at $26.9 million and where to put police over four years of construction.
Suzuki: Pros include mid-range cost at $21 million and large parcel for design options. Cons include tree removal, limited accessibility and traffic impacts. It would take three years to construct.
Harrison: Pros include lowest cost at $9.5 million and much of the work already has been done. Cons include design constrained by existing building and proximity to church and senior care center. Another problem is city already owes $9.162 million on tax-exempt bonds it approved without a public vote for the purchase. It can run into problems if the building is not used for governmental agencies. It would take 1 1/2 years to construct.
In a related manner, city manager Blair King will ask councilmembers if they want an outside party to evaluate the purchase price on the Harrison property. At the time the building was purchased, appraisals varied from around $7 million to almost $10 million. Critics have said the city spent too much. About $3,000 would need to be approved by council, King’s memo says.
In other news
The council also will look at some issues related to art.
One is to accept a public art donation for Waterfront Sculpture Park in honor of Anne Smart, who has made immense contributions to art and culture on BI, a slide show says. It is for a sitting area and art bench.
The other is a presentation from the Public Art Committee on the Something New Rotating Public Art Display Program.
Arts and Humanities Bainbridge received 33 submissions. Three women and two men were selected – four from Western Washington and the other from Hood River, OR. Two of their works are shown at Waterfront Park, one at City Hall, one at the South Madison Overlook and the other at Winslow Way and Erickson Avenue.