After years of wrangling, the Bainbridge Island City Council finally gave its nod of approval recently on a motion authorizing City Manager Blair King to proceed with advertisement bids for the former Harrison Hospital Medical Clinic site – at 8804 Madison Avenue N – to be converted to the future homes of the both the Bainbridge Island Police Department and the island’s Municipal Court.
According to King, “The City seeks to build a safe, accessible and adequately sized facility that will serve the community’s needs for the next 50 years.” The police station has been located at the corner of Winslow Way and Highway 305 for more than three decades, while the muni court has moved around a bit and is now located in Rolling Bay. The city leases the muni court space and owns the police station building.
In early 2020, the City purchased the almost spanking new clinic building and property for $8.975 million. Last April, however, city staff postponed any construction bid advertising for the proposed retrofit of the building to instead wait for King to begin his role as City Manager and lead the city through the project’s evolution.
Talk of building a new police station, and later including the Municipal Court, has been in the air for decades. A previous administration even put the idea to voters back in 2015, where it was soundly defeated. Community conversation on both sides of the issue has ensued ever since, including a petition from change.org (https://www.change.org/p/bainbridge-city-council-no-new-bainbridge-island-police-station) that opposed the project, with the title “No New Police Station”. That campaign occurred during the height of the “Defund the Police” movement nationwide.
As part of the approved motion, the City will include a racial equity lens for the project construction to ensure the building design is suitable to create a welcome space for all of the Bainbridge Island community, King noted in a prepared statement.
The City anticipates awarding a project construction contract this coming April with a completion date set for 2023. It’s estimated that the project costs, including the acquisition of the existing 18,000-square-foot clinic and new retrofit construction will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $20.4 million. Over the years, the city looked at 18 potential sites for the police/court complex and spent roughly $11 million doing so.
Meanwhile, a professional property appraiser, who has not previously participated in any work on 8804 Madison Avenue N or had any involvement with the city’s purchase of the property, will analyze the steps the city took to establish the purchase price, and explore whether the City operated according to best professional standards.
Check out the Council vote authorizing King to conduct an evaluation of the purchase price of 8804 Madison Avenue N by a Seattle appraiser, by visiting approved a motion. You can also watch the proceedings here.
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