Tour shows why new Public Safety Building is needed (slide show)

MARYSVILLE – How much do you spend in Marysville each year?

Now take away the cost of groceries, prescription drugs and a large purchase like a car.

Now how much do you spend? Probably just a few thousand dollars, right?

For arguments sake, let’s say $5,000, which is probably a lot for most people. Many would have to get a large appliance to spend that much.

But if you spent 5 grand, you would pay $5 more to help pay for a new Public Safety Building.

Marysville residents will vote Aug. 7 on a ballot measure that would pay for a new police station and jail. It doesn’t affect property taxes. Ballots will be mailed out July 19.

The sales tax in town would go to 9.2 percent, which would still be less than in many other cities in Snohomish County. That means everyone who buys items in town, other than those already mentioned, would help pay for the facility.

The need for a new $23 million police department and jail is evident when taking a tour (see sidebar).

The current one was built in 1986 when the city’s population was about 8,000. It was funded by a voter-approved bond that was paid off over 30 years.

Today, the city has grown to 67,000 people. Because of that, the city went from 24 to 100 police officers. The need for a new jail will only increase as the city’s population in the next 20 years is expected to reach almost 90,000.

“We need to set up for the future,” Cmdr. Mark Thomas said at Monday’s City Council meeting.

The space for the jail has never expanded. “All we do is add bunk beds” for additional prisoners, which average 45 or so a day, Wendy Wade, jail supervisor, said at the same meeting.

The five cells for men average about eight in each.

“You can’t get into the kitchen if the oven door is open,” she said, explaining how cramped the entire facility is.

The sales tax change would provide $800,000 a year, about 70 percent of the estimated $1.138 million needed annually over 30 years for the jail. The remaining $338,000 each year would come from the general fund. A new Public Safety Building would house 110 employees and 50 cells for 110 inmates. It would be built on 6 acres between Fourth and Eighth streets, east of the railroad tracks and west of Comeford Park. Construction would start next spring, with the move-in date sometime in 2020. The jail would be 19,272 square feet, almost four times larger than the current one. Space for police would be 26,786 square feet, almost three times larger.

Keeping a jail in town is important to the city’s get-tough-on-crime strategy.

In nearby cities, people who commit misdemeanors are given a ticket, court date and released back into the community. These types of crimes include theft, vandalism, vehicle prowl, possession of drug paraphernalia, trespassing, reckless driving and DUI.

In Marysville, officers arrest these offenders and book them into jail, meaning immediate consequences for offenders, Wade said.

That also saves from two to six hours of time transporting criminals to Everett or even Des Moines for booking. That means officers can get back on the streets quicker, sometimes within 15 minutes, Thomas said.

Wade said sometimes Snohomish County won’t even take Marysville prisoners, which ends up being a waste of time for officers. With their own jail, somebody else isn’t making that decision for us, she added.

In other communities without a jail, it’s catch and release, Thomas said. “It’s important for crime reduction,” he said. It’s a deterrent to have to go to the “gray bar hotel.”

The area for police also is overcrowded. Thomas said the police staffing area has gone through five remodels.

A short hallway has been turned into a room, and some units have had to move offsite. Police have overtaken space in the next-door fire department, and a storage area turned into an office for one now has six people in it.

Long-term, passage of the ballot measure could eventually lead to a new $20 million consolidated civic center next door that would not cost taxpayers any new money. That’s not a typo or fake news. That’s because the city would sell the land and buildings where city departments are now to pay for the new center.

Being consolidated in that structure would be: city hall, city courts, community development/engineering and a new community center. The 6-acre campus would include Comeford Park to the west and then north. The city owns most of the 6 acres already. The city hopes the campus would be ready to move into in 2020, with construction beginning in 2019. Council Member Mark James said the added construction jobs would be a boon to the city.

Chief Administrative Officer Gloria Hirashima said previously that the city has a debt of $711,000 annually. With all of the transactions, the debt for a new civic campus would be $759,000 – “basically a wash.” Mayor Jon Nehring has said residents would love it because it’s a “one-stop shop” and a “real source of pride for the community.”

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By Steve Powell

spowell@marysvilleglobe.com

MARYSVILLE – A tour of the Public Safety Building shows why a new one is needed.

Privacy, safety and proximity are concerns, along with overcrowding – mainly for employees but also for inmates.

•Parking: It’s limited. Officers who live within 2 miles of Marysville can take their cars home so that helps. But 15 formerly public parking spaces are now used by police.

•Process room: The main entrance for officers and suspects is also where evidence is processed. •Arms room: Also is used now for polygraphs, breathalyzers and radar units.

•Patrol room: Each officer used to get their own drawer for reports they file. New officers don’t. They settle for a cardboard box. There’s one men’s bathroom, but no No. 2 can take place there because of the proximity to others working.

•Cmdrs. Mark Thomas and Larry Buell share a room designed for one person. Thomas said working side by side can be good for sharing information. But one of them has to leave the room if they need privacy for a meeting or phone call.

•Sergeants share two offices that are only 8 feet by 10 feet.

•The break room can handle maybe seven people at a time, while 100 work there. Office supplies are kept in drawers there. “We’re always multi-tasking rooms,” Thomas said.

•A storage room that was turned into an office for one years ago now has six workers in it.

•A little bit bigger room also has six workers. They actually have partitions separating them. But they have varied jobs such as sergeants, chaplain, school resource officer, etc.

•A very small room is the office of the leader of the 22 volunteers with the department.

•The records division houses another six or so workers. Again, there is very little privacy despite the varied jobs done there. One position is staffed 24 hours a day because it lets people into the jail via video. The receptionist talks by phone through a window for any visitors. “It’s not very welcoming,” Thomas said.

•In an area that used to be part of the fire department, police now use it for SWAT, training and hiring. There is a very small meeting area for a handful of people. “We can’t have two meetings at once,” Thomas said, adding they recently had to borrow a fire department room for a meeting.

•The office for internal investigations is right next to the fire engine bays, which can get very distracting and noisy when a response is needed.

•An area that was outside the building has been enclosed and a large freezer purchased for food for prisoners. The food needs to be taken upstairs to the jail via an elevator.

•The detective division has its share of issues. It is located near the only large conference room in the building. Victims’ families have no privacy there. In the interview rooms the walls are so thin that both can’t be used at the same time. Five detectives share a room. Off that room is another office for two workers who really need their own offices because of the sensitive information they both receive in computer forensics and crime analysis. Much of their information, no one else is supposed to see it. •In the men’s locker room, their lockers have gone from full-sized to half-sized. In the women’s locker room there is one shower and 15 lockers.

•The former workout room for workers is now home to the North Snohomish County Property Crime Task Force, with three Marysville workers, two from Snohomish County and one from Lake Stevens. “We’re constantly repurposing rooms,” Thomas said.

•The entry to the jail portion of the building is very tight, especially considering intakes and outtakes take place there. There are two benches for inmates with three handcuffs attached to each. There’s a holding cell and a place for fingerprinting. The laundry room contains a residential washer and dryer for the up to 50 inmates because commercial ones can’t fit through the door. •The visiting area for inmates and families looks like it’s from the 1960s. There are two phones, glass separating them, stools and no privacy. •There is a common area that doubles as the eating area with their only amenity – a small flat screen TV. It has one toilet and two showers.

•Two cells hold 10 inmates each, and three others hold six each. Inmates are rotated into the common area.

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