The Pierce County Council has approved spending $2 million to open a Sheriff’s Department precinct in the Parkland-Spanaway area.
The council voted Tuesday night to pay for land, two buildings and renovations where about 35 deputies will be based.
The facility near Pacific Avenue South and 141st Street Court South is at the epicenter of the highest crime area in unincorporated Pierce County, said Sheriff’s Department Chief Rob Masko.
“We will have a much faster response to our citizens who are living and working in the Parkland-Spanaway area,” Masko said. “We want to be more effective in fighting crime in that particular area.”
Burglaries, auto thefts and assaults are the most common crimes in the area, he said. The precinct is projected to open by the end of 2013, serving a population of about 80,000.
The sheriff’s department was not given any additional hires to staff the precinct; in fact, the 2013 county budget will pay for 11 fewer law-enforcement positions compared with this year’s budget.
The Parkland precinct will draw some deputies from the department’s only other precinct, on South Hill. A small detachment at Sprinker Recreation Center in Spanaway also will move to the new site, Masko said.
While most council members were enthusiastic, Roger Bush, R-Frederickson, objected that the full council wasn’t briefed on the purchase. Although he supports the area having a precinct, Bush said the project was hurried and that other locations should be considered.
Bush said he first learned about the purchase at a study session earlier Tuesday.
“I think it’s too quick,” Bush said. “It’s rushed. It’s not transparent.”
Deputy county executive Kevin Phelps said he talked with every council member individually about the project about a month ago. Other sites were considered, he said.
Council chairwoman Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, said Bush’s concerns were valid but that Bush was alone in voting no in the council’s 4-1 decision. Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, and Stan Flemming, R-University Place, were absent.
Council members Rick Talbert, D-Tacoma, and Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, both said the $2 million price tag is a great deal for the county and will enhance public safety.
“We’re getting a very nice piece of property – even with renovation – for a very low price,” Muri said.
The project will be financed with a $2 million loan from public works’ equipment rental and revolving fund. Next year, the county will sell $2 million in bonds to pay back the loan.
The county has an agreement to buy the property at 14113 Pacific Ave. S for $900,000, Phelps said Wednesday. Renovations would cost up to $800,000, he said. The county also plans to buy a vacant lot at the site.
The bank-owned property still houses several businesses and organizations. The two buildings have a combined 23,000 square feet, Phelps said.
The county has three weeks to examine the buildings for problems and then expects to close by Jan. 25, said Rick Tackett, the county’s real property specialist.
The $2 million project is one piece of a $20.5 million supplemental budget the council approved during an in-district meeting at Marine View Presbyterian Church in the Dash Point area. The changes increased this year’s total county budget to $846.1 million.Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647 steve.maynard@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/crime @TNTstevemaynard