Officials in Woodland say a new police station will have the trickle-down effect of boosting municipal space throughout the city, which has been feeling the squeeze of cramped quarters in recent years as the city has grown.
After four months of construction, the 8,300 square-foot modular building opened for business this month. Along with housing police operations, the building is also home to new council chambers. The former police station, located within City Hall, will be turned into a fire station run by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
It's all part of consolidating departments into dedicated space, even if that means they wind up farther apart. The new police station is located about 1.5 miles from Woodland's downtown core.
"We're kind of spread out all over," said Mari Ripp, the city's clerk and treasurer. "But (we're) trying to get more room for the staff."
Building the police station on a patch of semi-industrial land north of Lewis River Road was deemed a necessary move. It was among the only places in Woodland where the city could afford to build a police station from scratch.
Relic of the 1970s
Elbow room within the city has been in short supply, Ripp said, as Woodland's staffing needs continue to outgrow what its buildings can contain. Between 2000 and 2010, the city population grew by nearly 2,000. Today, Woodland's population hovers around 5,540.
The previous police station was a relic of the 1970s, when Woodland's population never exceeded 2,500 people. By 1986, when Chief Rob Stephenson began working for the department, officers had begun knocking into each other as they passed between rooms.
"It was cramped like a son of a gun," Stephenson said. "The space we had before was under no circumstances what you could call a modern building. It was just a brick-and-mortar building. It was just space."
The new building contains squad rooms, evidence storage, holding cells and separate areas to interview suspects and witnesses.
Overall, the building will cost the city a little more than $3.1 million. Roughly $1.9 million will come from city-issued construction bonds. Woodland will use a .01 percentage point voter-approved sales tax increase to pay back the debt.
City council dedicated an additional $1.2 million from its general fund to backfill construction costs after discovering the bond amount wouldn't cover everything.
While moving the police station out of downtown wasn't Stephenson's first choice, he said it wouldn't matter much in the long run because police officers are mobile. He called the location, 200 E. Scott Ave., Woodland's only option as the city looks toward the future.
The new police station now has room to grow by about 2,000 square feet. But Stephenson said that likely won't be necessary for years to come.
"Right now, we have room for officers to work in without crashing into each other," Stephenson said. "Overall, I think we made a good choice by how we packaged the project."