The years-long saga of Arroyo Grande’s quest to do something about its dismal police department digs took a vital step on Oct. 8, when the City Council approved a temporary relocation for the department’s operations while the current station undergoes a roughly $1.4 million renovation.
The council unanimously approved temporarily moving operations to the nearby Woman’s Club and Community Center on Vernon Avenue in February 2014. Along with the relocation, the city approved contracting with the Sheriff’s Department for dispatch services—again, temporarily. That joint deal will cost the city $40,000, but is expected to improve service to residents.
Though the latter part of the deal is temporary, the city has been attempting to secure a permanent contract with the county for the dispatch services, which Police Chief Steve Annibali said has a slightly better percentage rate of answering calls to dispatch within 10 seconds, and a lower rate of putting callers on hold. The temporary agreement will serve as a “test drive” of sorts for a long-term agreement.
“We’ve been looking at dispatch solutions for some time now and with a little luck, this is it,” Mayor Tony Ferrara said.
The city has twice attempted to pass bond measures to pay for a new station—once in 2010 for $6 million and again in 2012 for $6.6 million—which voters roundly rejected.
The city originally bought the current station from a phone company in 1973, and the building has been wracked with structural and electrical problems and deficiencies. The department has also grown significantly since the purchase.
The renovation, however, will repair leaks in the current building’s ceiling, fix long-standing water damage, improve locker facilities, and expand evidence storage space.
The city will pay some $6,000 for costs related to temporarily relocating classes currently held at the Community Center to St. John’s Lutheran Church and the South County Regional Center. According to Director of Recreation Services John Rogers, the center currently provides about 145 hours of activities per month.
“I think this is as good a plan as we can come up with at this point,” said Councilman Jim Guthrie.
The renovation is roughly expected to be complete by November 2014.