Beaverton breaks ground for Public Safety Center
Beaverton broke ground Monday for its new Public Safety Center, which will house police and emergency managers.
Speakers said the building will give police and emergency managers a secure base if there is an earthquake or other disaster. It also gives the Highland neighborhood a valuable public asset at the southwest corner of Allen and Hall boulevards.
"It feels so fitting to me that we are here today celebrating this important milestone for Beaverton during our observance of national Welcoming Week," Mayor Denny Doyle said. "Our desire for the Public Safety Center is symbolic of the city's commitment to the community we all serve."
City voters approved a $35 million bond issue in 2016 for new construction, which will take place on the site of the former Beaverton Activities Center and a Shell service station.
Two years earlier, voters rejected a bond issue for construction at the current police building at 4255 S.W. Griffith Drive, which will continue to house Beaverton Municipal Court. That building, which once housed City Hall, was meant to be temporary. But it is unlikely to withstand a severe earthquake of the kind that would be triggered by movement of faults off the Oregon coast.
Completion is scheduled in about 18 months.
Police Chief Jim Monger told the City Council in May that escalating construction costs could add as much as $6 million to the building's price tag. City officials have not yet decided how they will close that potential funding gap.
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat from Beaverton, helped secure a $400,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to perform cleanups at the former gas station and a nearby brownfield site.
"We know that because of the (population) growth and the Cascadia subduction zone, we need to prepare for those emergencies and the eventual earthquake," Bonamici said. "We need to have our police force and emergency managers have the tools and have them in a seismically sound building."
The project team consists of FFA Architecture and Interiors, Shiels Obletz Johnsen, and Skanska Construction, all of Portland.
"They designed a building that meets the programmatic needs of the police department and emergency management," said Francesca Gambetti of Shiels Obletz Johnsen. "But it is also a community asset built for generations to enjoy."
Police Capt. Eric Oathes succeeded Monger as project manager when Monger was appointed police chief in 2017.
Doyle said one of the highest compliments he heard about the building's design was "it doesn't look like a police station."
City Councilor Lacey Beaty lives in the Highland neighborhood, where the site is.
"We need a command center if something bad should happen," Beaty said. "This building will be the center of it. If you live within walking distance, you will be super safe."
Among the speakers was Oswaldo Bernal, who came from Colombia to the United States 28 years ago, and who sits on the city's Diversity Advisory Board.
Bernal said that service stemmed from events of four years ago, when he had issues about how police work. He was advised to attend the free 10-week course offered twice a year by the Beaverton Police Citizens Academy.
"I had an opportunity to learn from inside the city how things work," Bernal said.
"It will open your eyes to some of the things they do, why they do them — and more importantly, if you still have questions, you can have a conversation with them."
Bernal said there was a reason why Monday's groundbreaking for a Public Safety Center coincided with national Welcoming Week, during which Beaverton joins with cities and counties around the nation to promote understanding.
"We are lucky to have some of the best human beings serve in our police department — and I really do mean that," he said.