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88 Years and Counting
Why do we need a new Kent Police building?
The Police building was originally built in 1924 and despite significant investments made to prolong its service life, the building has reached a point where it would cost more to fix it than it would cost to build a new one. The Police Station was ready to be replaced 17 years ago but City leaders had an outdated Fire Station to deal with first so the decision was made to build a new Fire Station and repair the Police building. That decision gave the Police building another 17 years in service but City leaders today find themselves with a 88 year old building that has been patched, painted and plugged so many times that the architects say the only logical fix is to knock it down and build a new one. In addition to the day to day problems that come up trying to run a modern Police Department in an 88 year old building, the City has also been put on verbal notice by the State of Ohio Corrections Department to bring the outdated building into compliance with current standards for public jails or be prepared to be shut down. The City has been able to point to the on-going new facility planning efforts to avoid receiving an official State closure notice but with the risk of being shut down or hit with a lawsuit increasing every day, City Council put the issue on the November 6th ballot to let the voters decide if they want Kent to have a modern Police station that is functional, cost effective and compliant with all safety codes and standards.
Why are city voters hearing about the need for a new Kent Police Building now?
The need for a new Police facility has been publicly discussed and reported in the news media for nearly 20 years. That’s a long time for news to stay fresh so it’s not surprising that the Police building problems may not be commonly understood. City officials have been actively planning for a new Kent Safety Building since 1995, when the firm Horne and King Architects was first hired to evaluate the structure and determine baseline and projected police department space needs. As the years passed additional study work was performed in 2000, 2008 and again in 2010 by David Sommers & Associates LLC (Kent, Ohio) to update the data and to explore options to partner in a new building with the Portage County Courthouse and Kent State University safety personnel. The partnership option would have helped share the costs of a new facility but unfortunately the timing in 2008 didn’t work to make a joint facility possible. The findings of the various studies and media reports provide a 17 year chronology of the deteriorating conditions inside and outside of the building. The architects’ analysis offers a list of facility deficiencies, including building safety concerns, non-compliance issues, inadequate workspace and sub-standard utilities that are inefficient and costly to maintain.
Exterior Deterioration Examples
Interior Deterioration Examples
From a functional standpoint the architects concluded that “the building is living on borrowed time” with operational deficiencies inherent to the layout of the building that compromises the ability of Police personnel to do their job. The City is not in a position financially to justify putting more money into the building knowing that the building has exceeded its service life so the City is asking Kent voters to consider supporting financing a new building with a new dedicated income tax levy.
Couldn’t the City keep making repairs rather than constructing a new Police facility?
The City was able to squeeze an extra 17 years out of the existing building through repairs and renovations but given the age and footprint of the building there’s only so much that can be done to make the best out of the substandard space. The architects have documented a wide range of building deficiencies that will continue to require costly, temporary fixes. Plus, given the age of the building, many of the building systems are not in compliance with modern building and zoning codes, National Fire Protection Association requirements, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction regulations or the Americans with Disabilities Act. The building has reached a point where the costs of making repairs increases each year while the functional value of the building keeps going down as the outdated space and antiquated building utilities prevent the City from utilizing all the modern technology that is available to protect public safety and operate a modern Police facility. As it stands today, the building that houses the City employees dedicated to public safety is actually one of the worst violators of public safety in the City. It is difficult for the City to lead by example and compel private buildings to comply with public safety Interior Wiring Code Problems standards when the City’s most prominent building is in such poor condition. A review of the City’s capital improvement plans show where the City did its best to extend the life of the existing building but the architects have indicated that given all of the work that needs to be done, it would be more cost effective to construct a new building.
Does the City know what is needed for a new Police facility and how much it will cost?
The architects have performed a series of space studies that take the number of Police personnel and calculate total space needs using industry wide standards for Police facilities. The architects then develop the room plans based on a workflow analysis that Projected Space Need seeks to maximize the functional layout of the building. (2 story building) In terms of numbers, the building’s most recent addition was constructed in 1977, bringing its total size to 21,461square feet. Thirty-five years later, the architects have determined that the Police Department needs at least 30,000 square feet of space to function efficiently and effectively. Using recent police facility construction costs, and projected land costs, the architects were able to estimate a cost of $13 million for the new building with land costs likely between $4 and $5 million.
First Floor = Second Floor = Total Administration: Public Entry: Services/Records: Operations: Jail: Investigations: Detectives/Juvenile: Emergency: Other Building: Mechanical: Total
20,702 9,911 30,613 1,500 2,148 3,600 5,548 4,956 616 3,634 1,330 625 6,656 30,613
How will the City pay for the new building?
The City’s finance team looked at a number of different options to pay for the construction of a new Police building. With cash reserves ($8 million in 2011-12) declining due to City the budget challenges created by the downturn in the economy over the last 5 years, paying cash for the building up-front is not an option. It turns out that with interest rates at record lows, the cost to borrow money is very affordable so the staff recommended a 30 year bond issue to finance the new building. The City would pay approximately $1.3 million annually to pay off the bond in 30 years.
*Current Building Size = 21,461 Net Increase = 9,152
Kent City Council is asking voters to make an investment in their safety services by supporting a 0.25% income tax levy that would generate the $1.3 million annual bond payment. Kent’s income tax rate has not increased since 1984, when voters approved the current rate of 2%.
What will a 0.25% income tax increase cost me?
Passage of the 0.25% levy means that beginning in 2013: • Those who earn $30,000 annually will pay $1.44 more per week, or $75 per year • Those who earn $40,000 annually will pay $1.92 more per week, or $100 per year • Those who earn $50,000 annually will pay $2.40 more per week, or $125 per year • Those who earn $75,000 annually will pay $3.60 more per week, or $187 per year • Those who earn $100,000 annually will pay $4.80 more per week, or $250 per year Retirees or those on fixed income who are not currently paying income taxes would not be affected by the new levy. The proposed .25% income tax is a “dedicated” tax levy which means that the funds collected by the new levy can only be used for the purpose of paying for the costs of financing the construction of a new Police building. If the final costs of the building come in lower than estimated, or if the new levy generates more new income tax than is needed to pay the annual debt on the new Police building, any excess funds will go into a Police building reserve account up to a cap of $1 million. Although unlikely, any funds received beyond the $1 million cap could only be used only on street repair projects in Kent. None of the new funds could be used for any employee salaries.
Where would the new Police building be located?
The City’s Bicentennial Plan, approved by Kent City Council in 2004, recommended the consolidation of City buildings, including the Police Building, to create a City Campus that would geographically co-locate as many City service areas as possible in convenient proximity to one another. A City Campus offers the prospect of greater staff productivity and efficiency, improved coordination, and better convenience for the public. The block that contains the existing the Fire and Police Stations was identified as a prime prospect for a City Campus since a number of City functions are already located there. Since a location decision is going to have to stand the test of time for another 60 to 70 years, the City leadership felt it was important to do their due diligence, looking at as many sites as possible in order to find the site that would be the best fit for Kent today and for decades to come. The first step was determining what a “best fit” would look like in a site. Through a series of interviews and research, the architects suggested that a great site would have the following attributes:
1) Rapid Egress (centrally located for fast response/dispatch time); 2) Good Community Access (high visibility and parking); 3) Favorable Tax Impact (supports economic development); 4) Gateway Impacts (improve/welcome to community); 5) Adequate Infrastructure in Place (roads, water, sewer, gas, etc., all available with capacity); 6) Community Pride (attractive building, community asset); 7) Proximate to Downtown Kent; 8) Promotes Urban Redevelopment (eliminates blight); 9) Environmental Quality (no contamination problems); 10) Zoning Conformance (meets City zoning requirements); 11) Urban Context (appropriate building scale, materials, and character)
12) Bicentennial Plan (consistent with sustainability goals); 13) Kent City Campus (shared parking, multi-use site) 14) Minimal Police Operations Impacts (minimize construction displacement) 15) Site Topography (affordable property to build on)
The City and the architects explored as many sites as possible within Kent that had enough property to accommodate the building footprint and parking for a new Police building. A list of 10 prospective sites was compiled and analyzed in further detail. Based on that analysis, the top 3 rated sites were then separated out and site schematics were performed to see how the building footprint, parking, open space, etc. would work on each site. Property ownership and parcel acquisition cost estimates were factored in as well. Two of the three top rated sites came out as equally attractive options and those are the sites that the City will focus on if the new income tax levy passes.
Preferred Site B
What will the new Police building look like?
There is still more work that needs to be done before a final building design can be prepared but the architects have developed a rendering that reflects the scale, type of material, and look that is likely to be in the final building. The overall square footage of the proposed new building is projected to increase by roughly 10,000 square feet from the size of the current building. In designing the new building the architects are trying to maximize the use of a single floor as much as possible to save money but that increases the building footprint – so the proposed building reflects a mix of two story along S. Water Street and one story along Summit Street. (see elevations at right) One of the goals of the new building is to complement the new development in downtown Kent and create a welcoming gateway that let’s visitors know they’ve arrived in community that takes pride in its City buildings.
Rendering of New Police Building, View of Summit Street @ Water Street Intersection
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