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Puyallup, WA – At their regular meeting on July 13, 2021, the Puyallup City Council approved an ordinance which will authorize a bond measure to appear on the November 2021 ballot. The bond is for a new Public Safety Building, located at 600 39th Ave SE.
The new building will be a modern facility and house the Police, Jail, and Municipal Court all under one roof. Currently, most of these departments are in separate, unsecure locations. In addition to a new facility, the bond will also fund a police substation located in downtown Puyallup. The substation will be inside City Hall on the first floor, allowing downtown residents access to police services.
The bond measure will ask Puyallup residents to consider funding a new Public Safety Building, with a total cost of $82.7 million. The bond will be issued for 25 years and cost the average median household $20 per month through an assessment on property taxes.
Features of the new Public Safety Building will include increased Jail capacity, space for all police staff, safer court rooms, and more storage for evidence, equipment, and supplies. The new facility will replace the existing 51-year old facility at 311 W Pioneer Ave in downtown Puyallup.
In 1968, the current Public Safety Building was established in downtown. At the time, Puyallup’s population was roughly 14,000 and the building was intended to house 23 police staff. The Jail, attached to the building, was designed to hold 21 inmates. In the span of 50 years, Puyallup’s population has grown to over 43,000 people. To meet the service demands of this growth, the Puyallup Police Department grew to approximately 95 total staff, with the Jail housing 52 inmates. This has created issues with officers unable to perform their duties due to crowded and inadequate workspace. In summary, the Department has simply outgrown the existing building.
Additionally, the current building has deteriorated, requiring constant maintenance and repairs. Chief Scott Engle comments on the building structure issues. “When the building was constructed in 1968, Puyallup was a smaller community,” says Engle. “Back then, the building was capable of providing sufficient service to the community. But today, the building has reached a point where it has outlived its ability to function as a proper police station. For example, we have plumbing problems, the roof is leaking, and occasionally we must move people and inmates around due to building failures. From a design standpoint, it just doesn’t fit our needs anymore. The same situation applies to our Jail. We outgrew that facility many years ago.”
In 2017, The Puyallup Police Department hired a consultant, Mackenzie, to conduct research and provide a feasibility study on a new Public Safety Building. In 2019, the consultant presented its findings to the City Council, include a list of options for locations. The City Council expressed interest in the 39th Ave SE location, which would utilize property owned by the City next to Central Pierce Fire & Rescue Station 72. However, concerns were raised over the nearly $120 million price tag. Council directed staff to go back and research ways to bring the costs down. In 2021, staff returned to Council with a new cost estimate of $82.7 million.
Mayor Julie Door comments on the decision. “We were really concerned by the initial cost that the consultant gave us,” remarks Door. “Our residents will be the ones paying for this, and frankly we were not comfortable with that figure. So, we asked them to find ways to bring it down. I firmly believe that this new cost of $82.7 million is much more reasonable. Now, it is up to our citizens to decide if they want to see this project happen.”
The Public Safety Building bond measure will appear on the November 2021 ballot to all registered voters in Puyallup. To learn more about the new Public Safety Building bond measure, please go to the project webpage here. For more information, please visit the Puyallup Police Department’s website www.PuyallupPolice.org.