$19 million police station too pricey?

City, builders spar over station’s cost, increasing impact fee
proposal
GILROY – The mayor believes a new $19 million police station project won’t be delayed by a possible challenge from the Home Builders Association, but not every council member agrees.

Builders have cried foul over a police impact fee charged to them by the city for each home built. That fee will rise from nearly $2,000 now to nearly $4,000 by the year 2007. HBA charges that some of the money collected in fees may be illegal.

The HBA has charged the city with violating state laws that prohibit an overreliance on the use of impact fees for the construction of new buildings and funding ongoing costs. The challenged fees will build a station that Gilroy Police Department official say is sorely needed.

“Police services have to grow with the city, and simply put there is no room to grow,” said GPD Assistant Chief Lanny Brown.

The fees issue came up at Monday’s City Council meeting when HBA Consultant Joanne Brion questioned some of the costs of building a new station. Brion said the operations and maintenance costs seemed high in comparison to other police station projects. Brion questioned $1.1 million budgeted for construction management on the project. Brion also questioned the cost of a new parking garage, which she said would cost the city $4.5 million.

“It’s a very expensive type of facility,” Brion said of the new parking garage.

The new police station, which will be bordered by Hanna, Dowdy and Seventh streets, is to be the first of four major projects built with development fees collected from builders. The other three projects include a new sports park, a new fire station and a new library.

Before Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Tom Springer said the projects could be held up if the HBA challenged the city in court. But after the meeting, Springer said he does not think the HBA’s argument will derail those projects.

“Everything will stay on track, there will be no impact on the time frame,” Springer said.

Discussion at this Friday’s council retreat will likely center around the impact fees, according to Councilman Peter Arellano. If the council comes to a consensus that no laws are being violated, then the projects should move ahead smoothly, Arellano said.

“I think we still have to discuss it more,” he said. “I think there were some answers last night, but we didn’t answer everything. The whole premise right now is ‘is it illegal or not?'”

The existing station, located at 7370 Rosanna St., was built in 1965. An addition in 1986 brought the station’s size to just under 20,000 square feet. The new station will have more than 49,000 square feet, and planners are almost finished designing the facility, according to Brown.

“We’re at the very detailed part of the design phase,” he said.

Brown said planners are currently deciding what types of carpet will be on the floors and what colors of paint will be on the walls. Designed in a mission style, the new station will house many of the same functions as the old station, including a 911 communications center and temporary holding cells. But the station will have some new features such as a community-use room. It will also include a two-story underground parking garage.

The garage is expected to prevent parking space from becoming an issue around City Hall, according to city officials. Currently, the department employs 110 people. The new station will be designed to have space to easily fit 195 people, according to Brown.

Once the design process is finished, preparations will begin for construction. The GPD’s Neighborhood Resource Unit, which is located in a house on the site of the new station, is expected to be moved in August. In September, homes owned by the city on the plot are set for demolition. Once the design is complete, the city plans to go out to bid on the project around next November or December, Brown said.

If all goes as planned and a bid is awarded, ground will be broken for the station by next April. The station should by finished by November 2004, Brown said. The new station would effectively serve the law enforcement needs of Gilroy through the year 2023, according to Brown.

Staff Writer Jonathan Jeisel contributed to this report.

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