To the editor:
I have many concerns about Baker City taking steps to purchase the former DHS building to house the police department.
To begin with, the building is too big. The police department has about 18 employees spread over three shifts and seven days per week. That makes only about six employees per shift. I am told that DHS had 40 employees and room for clients also. Why does the police department need a 7,000-square-foot building ? Are there additional uses planned for the building that we have not yet heard about?
With the police department leaving the public safety building, additional space would also be created for the fire department. Does the fire department need to expand? What additional expenses would be incurred in remodeling and operating two separate and larger facilities? (Didn't we just merge them?) With a stable or declining population, are these additional costs warranted? Are there other higher priorities?
I also question the removal of a building worth about $500,000 from our tax rolls.
This is a building that could house a new business. In economically uncertain times, do we have such a great tax base that we can afford this loss of revenue?
I wonder about the interface between the Leo Adler Parkway and the location under consideration. Parkway walkers and police traffic would share the same space. Are the uses compatible? Would the character of the pathway be enhanced?
Finally and most importantly, I am concerned about the rush to approve any purchase with insufficient disclosure to the public and without adequate time and opportunity for public input. In recent elections, Baker City has spoken. We want the way that our elected officials spend our tax money to make sense after all the facts are known. Two executive sessions of the City Council and two hurry-up newspaper articles do not meet the public participation standard.
Relocating the police department property means expansion. Until the case for expansion has been made, I say no to making an offer on this property. Let's get the horse before the cart, not the other way around.