Will voters approve the $ 82.7 million Puyallup security building?

The smell of roofing putty is nothing new to employees of the Puyallup Police Department. But it could be for those lucky enough to set foot in the agency’s 50-year-old building.

The facility at 311 W. Pioneer Ave. was established in 1968. At that time, Puyallup had approximately 23 employees. Today, around 95 employees are trying to use the building, according to the city website.

This November, voters will decide if they want to support a bail measure to help finance a new building that would bring together the police, prison and municipal court under one roof. He would also create a police station at the town hall.

“We’ve gotten really good at putting lipstick on a pig,” said Chef Scott Engle. “We’re at this point where (I don’t) have any more rabbits to come out of my hat to operate this facility.”

Engle organized community tours of the current building ahead of the election.

The project costs $ 82.7 million in total and would be paid for by the owners of Puyallup within 25 years. Those who own a median-priced home are expected to pay about $ 20 per month in property taxes, for a total of about $ 240 per year.

About $ 59 million of the total cost of the project will go towards things like construction costs. About $ 23 million will go to inspections and furniture, among other things. You can find more information on the breakdown of the total cost of the project on the city website.

The new building will be located at 600 39th Ave. SE, which is next to Central Pierce Fire & Rescue Station 72. Engle said the building is not in a lahar or flood zone, which will ensure the police department is not affected during such an emergency. . .

Initially, the project totaled around $ 120 million. City spokesman Eric Johnson wrote in an email that the consultant and city staff have reconsidered some plans to lower the overall cost, such as reducing the number of inmate beds in the city. ‘about 100 to 80. Other structural features such as awnings over some parking spaces and windows that block glare from the sun were also reconsidered, Johnson wrote.

“There has been a lot of thinking to make sure this is a good investment for the next 30 years,” Engle said. “We are good stewards of our community’s tax dollars.

Some who oppose the ballot measure argue that homeowners would see their taxes increased to build a prison “much larger than necessary,” according to the statement against the measure. the voter flyer. The location of the proposed building is also “problematic”, according to the statement, because it would be close to shops and residences for the elderly.

The current building has leaky roofs – the roof is flat, which is not a good idea in the Pacific Northwest where it rains often, Engle said. There are HVAC issues, the sewers back up frequently, and there isn’t enough space to house most, if not all, of the employees.

What was once a bathroom on the first floor of the two-story building turned into an office for the department’s young explorers program, which was “better than nothing,” Engle said.

The prison was designed to have 23 beds for inmates. Now the department has had to make room for around 52 inmates, Engle said. Some cells have three beds instead of two and the sprinkler system is obsolete.

At the time of the construction of the building, the city had about 14,000 inhabitants. Today, more than 43,000 people live in Puyallup, according to the city website.

“Every square inch of this building is being used for something right now,” Engle said. “We’ve been here for so long.

The municipal court is in a leased space at 929 E. Main Ave., and the city pays about $ 200,000 a year for the space, according to the city website. It’s just as overcrowded as the police station, Engle said.

The new building would have the police station and prison on the first floor. The Municipal Court would be on the second floor. The basement would contain the evidence as well as parking spaces, Engle said.

A substation at the town hall would house the traffic unit and provide space for an office and a conference room, The News Tribune reported. It would be on the first floor of the town hall.

In June, council members disagreed on how long homeowners should contribute, The News Tribune reported. Council members Dean Johnson, Ned Witting and Mayor Julie Door voted for a 20-year loan. Council members Cyndy Jacobsen, Jim Kastama, Robin Farris and Deputy Mayor John Palmer voted for a 25-year loan.

Engle said that if the bond measure does not pass, the city will return to “the drawing board” and come up with a Plan B, to which he does not know the answer.

The bail measure was supposed to be on the 2020 ballot, but it was put on a shelf after city council reconsidered the building’s location. This bond measure must receive a 60 percent approval rating for it to pass. Election day is Tuesday, November 2.

Angelica Relente covers topics that affect communities in East Pierce County. She started as a press intern in June 2021.

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