City Manager Dan Huff hopes a new 17,500 square-foot facility will be built by 2024 

Correction: Mackenzie Inc. architecture and engineering firm is based in Portland.

PIONEER PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Molalla Bowl closed its doors for business in 2018. Molalla's new police facility will take it's spot.

A new police facility is slated to take the spot of the now-shuttered Molalla Bowl in just a couple of years.

The Molalla Police Department has shared a space with the city hall since the '70s, back when the city's population was around 2,000 people. Since then, the population has skyrocketed fivefold.

The number of officers on staff has increased as well. From 11 officers in 2013 to 17 today, making the current 2,000 square-foot facility a little too cozy, said City Manager Dan Huff.

"We're cramming people into a very small place," he said. "They actually do a lot of their work sitting in their cars, because there's no space inside our facility."

Molalla City Council set establishing "a new police facility" as its top goal this last fiscal year, and this year, purchased a lot on Grange Ave, where Molalla Bowl now stands. Huff said the structure can't be renovated into the new police facility, but there are tentative plans to repurpose the alleys for the new facility, although they're still not exactly sure how to make that happen.

The old bowling alley shuttered in 2018, with little to no explanation from the owners, Huff said, noting that the property was abandoned for years before the city purchased it in August 2021 for just under $500,000.

But $500,000 is only the beginning, Huff said, with plans to demolish the building and rebuild a 17,500 square-foot facility that will likely cost between $15 and $20 million.

Huff recognizes that cost is a huge concern for the community, which is why he says the city is working to find creative ways to fund the project and will consider moving forward with a bond (a debt security to fund capital projects) during a future council meeting.

The city will also likely have a hiring freeze on new officers for the foreseeable future, in order to focus attention on preparing for a new facility, according to the city's 2021-2022 budget highlights.

In June, the city selected Mackenzie Inc. as the architecture/engineering lead on the project. The Portland-based firm also worked on the Sandy Fire Station renovation and Lake Oswego's new city hall and police facility.

"Mackenzie has extensive experience with public buildings and, specifically, police departments," Huff said.

There isn't a definitive deadline yet on when the project will be completed, but Huff hopes Molalla will have its new police facility in 2024. The city also intends on having some basic renderings of the building to show the community this winter.

While there isn't a wish list for the new building, per se, Huff said he hopes it will be something the community will be proud of.

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