ALHAMBRA — Voters in Alhambra, who have not passed a bond issue in 30 years, will be asked to approve a $16.2-million financing plan to build a two-story police station and underground parking garage.
City Manager Kevin Murphy said the vote is tentatively scheduled for the state primary election June 7.
Yet to be decided is whether the city would finance the facility, to be built on property south of City Hall, with a general obligation bond issue or through a tax assessment district. In either case, Murphy said, the city would need approval from two-thirds of the voters.
The facility would be financed over 40 years and cost the average homeowner $50 to $60 a year in the beginning, Murphy said, adding that the annual cost would decrease over the years to about half that amount.
Murphy said a public opinion survey conducted for the city last May showed that 54% of those questioned would be willing to pay $50 a year for a new police station. Even though this was less than the two-thirds majority that will be needed in an election, Murphy said the survey results were encouraging because voters have not yet been given information about the Police Department's need for new facilities.
Getting a two-thirds majority will be difficult, Murphy admitted, noting that Alhambra voters twice rejected bond financing for a library. The last bond issue approved here was the $250,000 issue that built the current police station in 1955, he said.
Perhaps the best way to persuade voters that a new station is needed, Murphy said, would be to invite them to walk through the current one, where they will see makeshift offices and crowded conditions.
Police Capt. Russ Siverling said the station doesn't have room for Police Department staff meetings, so they are held at the Joslyn Senior Center. There are no conference rooms in the station, and the briefing room was reduced to half its original size several years ago to permit expansion of the communications center.
Siverling said that when the Police Department recently received a $132,000 state grant for an anti-drug program, it had no space to house a drug counselor until an office was created by taking over a phone booth, a closet and part of a hallway.
Parking is so inadequate that some employees must park on the street, Siverling said, and the traffic enforcement office, which has 39 employees, is housed in a room with three desks.
Murphy said expanding the existing police station on Woodward Avenue would require the acquisition of four homes and four lots with multifamily housing. Instead, the City Council has decided to build a new station on property extending south from City Hall to Commonwealth Avenue. The proposed site includes city-owned parking lots and the Alhambra Woman's Club property that the city bought in December for $220,000. In addition, Murphy said, the site contains land occupied by a Masonic hall and two rental properties.
Based on information submitted by two architectural firms, the city estimates that it would cost $3.4 million to acquire the site and relocate property owners and tenants, and $10.2 million to build the station. Contingencies and financing expenses would raise the total cost to nearly $16.2 million.
The new station would have 42,000 square feet of space, more than twice the size of the current building. It would include a large room for community meetings in addition to offices for the Police Department, which has 157 employees, including 95 officers.
Murphy said he will submit information about financing options to the council for discussion Feb. 18. He said the council must approve a plan by early March to get a measure on the June election ballot.