A $2 million purchase of a 3-acre piece of land by the city of Puyallup was approved at a city council meeting on Aug. 23, and will be the site of a new public safety building.
Referred to as the “Lumbermen’s Property,” the lot on 600 39th Ave S. totals 5.05 acres. Central Pierce Fire & Rescue owned the land and plans to use 1.99 acres to build a new fire station.
City Councilwoman Julie Door approached Central Pierce officials to ask if they would be willing to allow the city to purchase the extra available space.
“The main thing was securing that location,” Door said. “We didn’t want to lose that opportunity.”
The purchase was made with the intent to replace the existing public safety building in Puyallup, which is currently located on 311 W Pioneer and consists of both the Puyallup Police Department and city jail. The new building could put the police department, jail and municipal courts all in one location.
It would be one campus. They’re all right there. You’re not going through all different locations throughout the city trying to address whatever business you have going there.
Julie Door, Puyallup city councilwoman
The current public safety building is aging and a bit cramped, according to Police Chief Bryan Jeter, who would like to see his fellow officers and staff have a bit more room to move around. Some staff members work out of offices that were once storage spaces or closets; many are without any windows or much room to store files.
The station has a single conference room that can’t fit everyone in the department — about 80 people total — if the department needs to hold a meeting, Jeter said, and there aren’t enough lockers for all of the officers.
“We do the best with what we can,” Jeter said. “(But) we’re maxed out for space. We can’t move anymore.”
There are also security concerns with the building, Jeter said, which was built in 1960 and hasn’t had any large renovations since the 1990s. There are many upgrades that could be made to the building, he says, both structurally and technologically.
The department often runs into issues of noise, along with lack of office privacy and secured parking. Even the roof, which is flat and causes rain to pool, leaks on occasion.
There are also security concerns at the city’s municipal court, said Puyallup Judge Andrea Beall.
The municipal court, located at 929 E Main Ave., is inside a public building with leased space and consists of two courtrooms. Since the courts are on the first floor of the building, they have to share an entry with other visitors going up and down the building, which can make evacuation — if ever necessary — difficult.
The court could also benefit from a secured parking lot for staff, said Beall, and a closer location to the public safety building if defendants in court are taken into custody.
“It’d be better for (police) so they don’t have to drive over,” Beall said, adding that it’d be quicker for the court as well.
We do the best with what we can. (But) we’re maxed out for space. We can’t move anymore.
Bryan Jeter, Puyallup police chief
With the purchase of the Lumbermen’s Property comes the possibility of improvements for more space, updated technology and more efficient use of city facilities.
“It would be one campus. They’re all right there,” Door said about the new building. “You’re not going through all different locations throughout the city trying to address whatever business you have going there.”
But the purchase of the land was recent, and there are many questions to answer before any final decisions are made.
Some locals have expressed concern that the public safety building would no longer be in the heart of downtown Puyallup, but Door says there are also benefits to having the campus higher up on South Hill.
“Having it up on the Hill is a good thing in case of a lahar or train emergency,” Door said. “Instead of having our first responders stuck in the middle of the crisis, they can get to it.”
The $2 million purchase will be paid in three installments up through September 2018. As the plans for the public safety building come together, voters will be informed on how to proceed with costs.