Yakima city manager says latest law & justice center proposal too costly

Yakima city manager says latest law & justice center proposal too costly
YAKIMA, Wash. -- KIMA takes a closer look at architects' latest proposal to expand the headquarters of the Yakima Police Department. A bigger building and a new jail would cost about $100 million. It's a lot of money for a city dealing with a lot of financial constraints. KIMA asked whether Yakima can afford it.

"There's simply no room."

Captain Jeff Schneider has no problem pointing out what is lacking at YPD headquarters.

"This is not conducive to good work."

Storage space has been turned into offices. Electrical rooms are now storage spaces. And, there's a bench, to which suspects are handcuffed when YPD runs out of interview rooms.

Then, there's the evidence room.

"It's just a complete disaster," said Capt. Schneider.

The problems don't stop there. Upstairs in the legal department, assistants sit three to an office.

Recycling bins and case files collect in the hallway. And, the library sometimes doubles as a lunch room.

Architects say two more courtrooms are needed, three more jury rooms, another judge's chamber as well as a bigger jail.

The price tag? About $100 million.

KIMA asked, "Can Yakima afford $100 million?"

"No," said Yakima City Manager, Tony O'Rourke. "Simply, no."

He told me there are too many other competing demands like streets, parks and recreational facilities

Joe Garcia lives in Yakima.

"There are so many different programs and other ways of going about breaking up the money, instead of focusing on one corner of Spruce here."

As for a new jail, O'Rourke says continuing the city's existing contracts with Yakima County and nearby cities for bed space would be cheaper.

"We don't think it needs, basically, to be tripled in size."

City staff will review the plans along with some cheaper options and bring them to the Public Safety Committee.

Other options include building a district facility in West Valley and moving some officers there. Yakima's city manager also suggested using City Hall's upper floors for support staff. Any decisions are unlikely this year.