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445 days of construction coming to site near Lacey City Hall. What is it? A police station

Calling it a much needed facility, Lacey City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to award a $43.6 million construction contract to build a new police station.

The work begins next month on land across from City Hall and near Interstate 5 that was acquired from Saint Martin’s Abbey. Construction is expected to last just shy of two years at 22 months.

“This is a big project,” said City Manager Rick Walk, adding the city long ago identified there was a significant need for a new station.

The original station, which is next to City Hall, was built to accommodate 25 officers. Now, it is home to 97 employees, including 68 officers, and is only slightly larger than its original 15,000 square feet.

The council had a choice of lower-cost contracts to award on Thursday, but ultimately agreed with the staff recommendation to award a larger contract to Olympia-based Forma Construction. They will build a 48,000-square-foot structure with the following amenities: a firing range, a simulator and defensive tactics training room and classroom space.

The council agreed there was no reason to wait any longer.

“It only makes sense to go forward with the full project, including the training center,” said council member Lenny Greenstein, pointing out the city was likely to recoup some of its costs by having the state and other jurisdictions use the training space.

“There’s nothing like it in the area,” he said. “It makes good sense for us to do it now.”

Council member Robin Vazquez said the project is not going to get any cheaper.

“If we have the funding now, we should do it now,” she said.

The total cost, including the construction contract, is around $60 million. Those other costs are what is known as “soft” costs, such as what the city paid for the land and what it will pay for equipment and furniture.

And the city decided to fund the whole thing without going to the public for a sales tax or property tax increase.

To get there, the city is tapping around $36 million in reserves, according to city information, plus $18 million in longterm general obligation bonds and some federal funds in the form of American Rescue Plan Act dollars, sometimes referred to as COVID-19 money.

The city also plans to pay down those bonds with real estate excise tax revenue.

Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder spoke highly of the project, calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” but acknowledged he was concerned about the amount of city reserves committed to the project.

“I am little worried about the arterial street fund longterm,” he said.

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