St Helens police station update

City officials say the current St. Helens Police station, at 150 S. 13th Street, is too small and out dated.

The City of St. Helens is continuing to determine the most viable site for the relocation and re-build of a new police station, after the completion of a feasibility study by Mackenzie, Inc. the consultant the city contracted with in March. Mackenzie originally examined four sites for the new facility, including the current site.

During a work session held Nov. 6, St. Helens City Council reviewed the potential of the four sites at 1771 Columbia Blvd, in the North Holton District, 1271 Columbia Blvd., the site of the current police station, Old Portland Road across from the Recreation Center and at Oregon Street adjacent to the CC Rider Station.

The Council used an important factor scoring criteria guide in ranking each of the potential sites that include Cost of Land/Site Development, Size, Shape, Potential for Multi-Use, Public Access to the Site-Vehicle, Public Access to the Site-Transit, Public Access to he Site Pedestrian/Vehicle, visibility and Prominence, and Proximity to Government Functions.

Matt Brown, Finance Director, said during the work session that Mackenzie was interested in doing more detailed work on a specific site, such as building out the floor plan of one specific site in particular, in order to present city councilors with a more condensed plan in the future.

The review also included positioning facility on site, security, traffic congestion, expansion to adjacent sites, proximity to geographic center, current ownership, land use and response time.

City officials said in late June that at the potential cost for the 22,000 square foot building is $8.8 million, which could be funded through bonds, existing cash, or other investments. But the officials said that cost would be based on location and design of the new police station.

The new site could also be used as a joint facility for the municipal court and Columbia River Fire & Rescue (CRFR), although the chances of it being home to CRFR would be contingent on if the space could be big enough, according to Brown and Brian Greenway, St. Helens Police Department (SHPD) Police Chief.

During a work session in June, City Finance Director Matt Brown presented a map of where the most common areas that police service calls originate, which Brown said is key factor for councilors to consider when choosing the location of the new police station. Those service call sites include, the Walmart area, Forest Park Apartments and the St. Helens Motel 6.

Councilor Ginny Carlson said it is important to keep the police station as close to the community as possible and that the current location has enabled police officers to develop a close connection with the surrounding community.

The current police station, at 150 S. 13th Street, is a 2,200 square-foot building constructed in 1971. “it’s extremely small and outdated,” St. Helens Police Chief Brian Greenway told the Chronicle in June. “Most homes are bigger than that.”

The new facility would be a two-story building, combined with municipal courts, and would have evidence and courts on the bottom floor, with police offices and operations on the top floor, Brown told city councilors at the work session.

Mackenzie marked one to be the “clear winner,” which is site 1, the site in the North Houlton District, 1771 Columbia Boulevard. According to the study, the site ranked high in scores related to public access to site, proximity to geographic center, neighborhood context and visibility and prominence.

However, councilors and Greenway wanted further analysis on some of the sites.

Greenway noted concerns with accessibility to railways and inclusion of CRFR into the facility.

“There’s good and bad in a lot of these sites, my concern is how are we going to traverse Highway 30 with trains?” Greenway said.

Greenway said that site 3, located at Old Portland Road by the recreation center, would be the best option for accessibility because of access to the city in at least three directions.

Regarding using the facility as a joint site for SHPD and CRFR, Greenway said at least five acres would be required. Brown also said including CRFR into a future joint facility would be difficult.

“There’s so many discussions that go into that. I don’t know that it’s in the cards with our current climate,” Brown said.

City councilors voted to give Mackenzie site options 1 and 3 for further analysis in their feasibility study for a potential police station.

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