The Lacey City Council discussed on Thursday a plan for voters to approve a $4-million purchase by the city of a Saint Martin’s Abbey property to be used for a new police station.
Ashley Smith, Lacey's capital projects engineer, said the existing 40-year-old police station is inadequate for current and future needs.
Smith said they also looked into the choice of just renovating the existing facility but determined that it would cost more and cause disruption of police services during the construction.
If approved, tree removal on the site would be minimized, and the land use will only be limited to a police station and a training and emergency management facility for the City. There would be no jail in the new police station other than a 24-hour holding cell.
Br. Nicolas Wilson, a representative of the Abbey, said the Abbey is optimistic about moving forward with the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Council.
“The Abbey is ready to move forward with the process of selling the property to the City,” Wilson said. “I don’t foresee anything changing since almost everything in the MOU has already been approved.”
Wilson said the Abbey is a separate entity from the university, so the decision is up to Abbey’s committee because they own the land. Their committee will meet on Saturday to finalize the MOU, but Wilson is optimistic that no significant changes will occur.
Concern on voting schedule
Council members expressed optimism in the proposal but raised concerns about the schedule of public voting.
Mayor Andy Ryder said that it would be better if the voting would be included in the general election because it would be cheaper; also, more people vote during the general election compared to special elections.
Deputy Mayor Malcolm Miller also expressed concern about the committee’s work calendar, saying the schedule of voting is a crucial part of the project.
“I think the timing could play a big role in the situation,” Miller said. “I want to see it succeed,”
However, City Manager Scott Spencer said the project is expected to be presented to the voters in the first half of 2023 during a special election.
Smith said the city wants to provide the voters a preview of what they are approving for funding before they decide.
“We understand that we don’t want to spend money unnecessarily should it be rejected,” Smith explained. “So our recommendation is to proceed up to 30% of the project design, which would give us a realistic basis for a cost estimate.”
The council plans to discuss awarding of design and construction planning projects to architects and engineers at a future meeting.
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