Jim Engelken: New process needed
August 26, 2013
You have missed the story with regards to the issue of a new police station and a location to put it. The City Council has allowed its staff to run amuck.
When the Today reports that the "city" has determined that Rita Valentine Park is the "preferred site" for a new police station, who are you talking about? The "city" is all of us residents as represented by our elected City Council. The City Council was not consulted prior to a "preferred site" being established. The Today apparently is referring to city staff who, without consultation with council, have taken a political position and, worse yet, are advocating for it. What you need to report is how completely inappropriate this is. Who is setting policy at the city?
The proper process for determining a preferred site should be that council directs staff to investigate potential sites that meet predetermined criteria and then reports back to council with a list of possibilities. Such a search should involve multiple city departments including planning, public works, legal, law enforcement and any other department that might have some expertise. Next, the City Council should hold public meetings to get public input and then, and only then, the City Council, not city staff, should make a determination of a "preferred site." As it stands today, law enforcement apparently is acting alone at the direction of the city manager — and absent clear direction from City Council.
The process for developing a new police station during the last couple of years has been a combination of comedy and tragedy. It's like a cat chasing its tail. We're all holding our breath waiting to see if the cat hurts itself. This spectacle has been an embarrassing waste of time and money. How can we expect good decisions out of City Hall when the City Council is so inept at putting forth a rational process for making those decisions?