New police, fire facilities mulled

City considers levy

DALLAS -- During a May 20 work session, the Dallas City Council agreed the city's police need a bigger station. Councilors also say the city needs an updated fire station.

The council is considering asking voters to approve a bond measure this November.

Councilors looked at two main proposals for the police station:

♦ Move into the adjacent Civic Center and former Itemizer-Observer print shop

♦ Build a new police station across Jefferson Street from City Hall.

Robertson/Sherwood/Architects of Eugene estimated the first option at around $645,000 plus property costs. Moving to a new station would cost roughly $1.5 million, depending on the design.

The same firm looked at expanding the current fire station, including:

♦ More office space

♦ New fire apparatus bays

♦ Separate locker rooms for men and women

♦ Fire sprinkler system throughout the building

♦ Renovating the second floor to accommodate public meetings

♦ Earthquake proofing

The recommended changes, including those listed above, would cost around $1.8 million. A brand new fire station would cost more than $3 million.

Council President Ken Woods recommended asking voters for a new police station and expanded fire station this November. "If we don't do it now, it's going to be at least two more years with having a cramped police station and cramped fire station," Woods said.

If Dallas officials miss this year's September cutoff, they would need to wait until 2006 -- or hope an off-election could draw more than 50 percent of registered voters. The double majority rule makes any money measure invalid if the majority does not vote.

Only 41 percent of all Polk County registered voters voted in the May 18 primary election.

Councilors Wes Scroggin and Glen Scatterday recommended prioritizing the police station first and fire station second. Councilor Warren Lamb proposed a comprehensive approach.

"We're putting a bunch of Band-Aids on something that needs more research," Lamb said. He suggested building a combined police and fire station.

The Civic Center could then move to the old fire station, Lamb said, freeing up office space. The senior center would move to the ambulance building, allowing the library to expand.

Councilor LaVonne Wilson cautioned against borrowing too much money. "I think we're getting a little out there," she said.

"We have a bonded debt currently that is pretty sizable." Dallas residents are paying off nearly $7.2 million outstanding debt on five general obligation bonds.

The council asked to have an architect draw up plans for a combined police and fire station. City Manager Roger Jordan said that could take around six weeks -- leaving the council two months to schedule and hold public meetings and decide on an option to place on the ballot.

Lamb said councilors shouldn't let the calendar force them to choose before they're ready. "We can't afford to make a hasty decision," he said.

"If the time's not right, the time's not right."

Dallas officials could have a difficult task convincing voters to approve a measure this November, when they'll (LIKELY? ASK DAVE) share the ballot with a Dallas School District operating levy. The City of Dallas has passed every bond measure for the last 20 years, Jordan said.

Mayor Jim Fairchild expressed the importance of getting strong support should the council go to voters. "We need to be totally solid before we lay this out," he said.

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