City Discusses Reworked Public Safety Center, Says Measure Could Make It Onto November Ballot

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Grand Junction city officials say voters could be deciding on the fate of a reworked public safety center as early as November.

Between the cramped space, dated buildings, and growing force, Grand Junction city officials say the police department, fire department, and 911 dispatch center need some major help.

"I don't think anybody that we've talked to disputed the fact that we need a new police station and we need new facilities for our firefighters," said Teresa Coons, Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Grand Junction.

But they say figuring out how to give them that help has been a challenge. Last November, citizens voted down a ballot measure that would have raised the city sales tax to pay for a new public safety center.

But now, after sifting through the results of a major public survey on the issue, City Council members say they're ready to give it another try.

"We are contemplating another ballot issue, perhaps this November," said Coons.

For the past several weeks, City Council, city staff, and a citizens advisory committee have been meeting to discuss what this public safety initiative should look like.

"A lot of what we've talked about is what are the specific needs for today," said Coons. "I think the critical question is just how much, how soon?"

City officials say things that most likely won't make that cut are a new parking garage in front of the building, new municipal courts, and some of the fire stations that were first proposed in the $98 million plan.

"We probably aren't going to be looking at a fire station in conjunction with the airport," said Coons. "But we're still trying to decide whether we need those two additional stations in the north part of town."

They say there's also been a lot of talk about changing a controversial TABOR override that was included in the first plan.

"I think we're pretty well together on the idea that we don't want to do a general TABOR question this time around," said Coons.

Between rearranging space in the buildings, sending in applications for federal stimulus dollars, and the general state of the economy, the city says residents could also see a different price tag.

"We know that the building costs, construction costs have gone down, so we're taking that into account," said Coons. "And that's a good thing."

With all these plans in motion, they say their most pressing concern is figuring out when they will put the measure before voters again. With an August deadline to get something on this year's ballot, they say you can expect a lot more meetings and discussions in the coming weeks.

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