Vote NO on Measure 24-420 for a better YES

As we say on the main Salem Can Do Better web page:

The flip side of NO is YES. Saying No to one thing can open a Yes door to a better thing. Salem voters need to reject the Measure 24-420 bond for an over-priced new Salem police facility. Then the way will be clear for a better approach — one that meets the needs of the Police Department without wasting taxpayer's money and risking lives.

Here's what we mean by a better approach:

Instead of taxpayers forking out $61.8 million for an over-priced police facility that doesn't include money to make the Library earthquake-safe, as citizens urged City officials to do as part of a second-try police facility bond, let's spend just a bit more -- $62.5 million -- for a reasonably-priced $47.2 million police facility AND seismic retrofitting of the Library, plus other needed renovations to the Library (such as a new roof), that costs $15.3 million.

Salem meets two important needs for the price of one.

Sure seems like a good deal. Scroll down for a 4-step explanation of how a PLAN C would work if voters reject Measure 24-420 in the May election. This is the poorly-thought-out PLAN B that was rushed to the ballot by City officials after PLAN A failed last year.

The current plan doesn't make sense: move Police Department staff out of their current headquarters at the Civic Center only to move other City employees into the same unsafe space. Unsafe, because neither City Hall nor the Library was built to stay standing during the coming 8.0 - 9.0 "Big One" earthquake. Both City Hall and the Library need to be seismically retrofitted as soon as possible.

The Library wasn't built to survive the next massive Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

Even though you can see in the video below that City councilors and other citizens urged City of Salem officials to make Library seismic retrofitting part of a May Public Safety bond (along with money for a new police facility), those officials decided to hold off until November on asking voters to approve a Library bond. This means it will compete with a large Salem-Keizer School District bond expected to be on the November ballot, lessening the chances of the Library bond passing.

But there's a better way.

The $61.8 million police facility plan on the May ballot is much too expensive per square foot. At a total development cost of $490 sq. ft. (excluding land), the Salem police facility would be the most expensive built in Oregon in recent years, by far. If the cost per square foot was reduced 26% to what Beaverton is building a new police facility for, this would free up funds to make the Library earthquake-safe AND construct a new police headquarters for just a bit more than $61.8 million.

Total development cost per square foot, excluding land acquisition

This is a more detailed explanation of how Salem can get to a better YES by saying NO to Measure 24-420.

A better PLAN C for the police facility, if voters reject PLAN B

The video below shows councilors and other citizens urging the City Council to (1) lower the price of the PLAN B 115,000 square foot police facility and (2) include money to seismically retrofit the Library in a May Public Safety bond.

Unfortunately, you'll see Mayor Chuck Bennett dismiss the idea that many Salem voters rejected the first-try police facility bond because of concerns that City Hall and the Library weren't being made earthquake-safe, even though saving lives of Police Department staff when the Big One hits is a key justification for a new police facility.

The Salem Weekly editorial board talked about this in the April 27 issue:

"Curiously – and perhaps foolishly – the Council refused to compromise on what seems to be the biggest sticking point for voters: seismic retrofitting of the library and City Hall. After the first bond measure failed, Mayor Chuck Bennett heard testimony from citizens and City Councilors indicating that the measure failed primarily because it excluded the library. Unfortunately, Mayor Bennett did not appear to hear those concerns." -- Salem Weekly editorial board

For more information about why you should vote NO on Measure 24-420:

Email me if you have a question.

Created By
Brian Hines

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