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Polson city commission considers new public safety building

POLSON – A new public safety building may be in Polson’s future.

The city commission began considering that topic with a work session on Monday, June 26. The current city hall is housed in a former grocery store and space is tight. 

Any new public safety building would house the city’s police and fire departments and city court. 

Stockton Reeves, executive director of the Center for Public Safety Inc. in Winterhaven, Florida, addressed the commission about a spatial needs assessment that the city paid him $15,000 for, according to City Manager Mark Shrives. 

Reeves presented two options for discussion on 3.75-and 5-acre parcels. A preliminary cost estimate is $7 million, he said, although site development would be $243,000 for the smaller parcel and $325,000 for the larger one. The cost would include construction, technology and furnishings, Shrives said. 

He said the idea for a new public safety building came out of the commission’s strategic plan from February 2016. 

The commission will consider whether to move forward with the plan at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, July 17. No final decision will be made at that meeting, Shrives said, adding that a go-ahead would involve getting a more specific cost estimate and funding an educational campaign. 

He said that very few federal grants are available for this type of project and consequently most of the costs would be paid for with a 20-year bond that would need approval by voters. 

Shrives said the city so far has looked at four potential sites including the sports complex on Seventh Avenue. 

Police Chief Wade Nash asked the commission to give him the opportunity to sell a new public safety building to the public. 

“Is it going to be easy? No,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge.” 

Shrives said the city had some discussions with the county about possibly leasing part of a public safety building to dispatch, but added that didn’t seem likely. He said that if the city and county combined on such a building proposal “it would never pass” a public vote, noting that both city and county voters would need to approve such a project. 

If a new public safety building comes to fruition, the remainder of city staff would stay in the current city hall building at 106 First St., he said. 

County commissioner Dave Stipe said the county is currently looking at its overall building plan – including a new jail and court – and is not committed to moving dispatch out of the courthouse.

“We’re kicking around building projects,” he said, adding that he wasn’t at liberty to discuss the situation further. 

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