Albany asks voters for $20M to replace fire, police buildings

ALBANY, Ore. - Cracks in the walls, exposed wiring, asbestos in the flooring - and black mold in the living quarters.

Welcome to Fire Station No. 1, built in 1949.

"It's time to get a new station," Fire Chief John Bradner said. "It's just to the point after 64 years, it's tired."

Voters in the City of Albany will decide on a $20.3 million bond November 5. The bond would cost property tax payers about 43 cents per $1,000 of taxable assessed value.

After an existing bond ends this year, City Councilor Floyd Collins said passing a new bond would not increase taxes - and doing so now could save money.

"Should we delay, not only will interest rates will go up, but construction costs will probably go up," Collins said.

The city seeks the money to build a new fire station and new police headquarters.

Both agencies have concerns about their current facilities.

At the Albany Police Department, there isn't a holding cell secure enough to leave offenders alone before transporting them to the Linn County Jail.

"They literally need to babysit the suspect if they have them here and they need to keep them for any amount of time before they take them next door to the Linn County Jail," said Capt. Eric Carter.

The department has twice the staff it did when the police station was built in 1988, just as the city has twice as many residents. Carter says Albany PD has just outgrown the building.

"One of the key things we need to do in law enforcement is be able to share information and have that free flow of information, and as it is right now, I mean offices are just - it's kind of haphazard," he said.

Firefighters want to be able to respond to community emergencies - not fall victim to one.

"Whether it'd be an earthquake or a weather event or something like that, we've got to remain operational. We've got to be able to respond to calls out of this station," Fire Chief Bradner said. "It's just to the point after 64 years, it's tired."

And if the power goes out, firefighters respond in the dark: the backup power supply is limited.

"All it will power is the bay doors to open so the equipment can get out, the phone system, and the tones so were alerted from when a call come in," Bradner said.

The bond question is Measure 22-121 on the November ballot.

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