Stanwood scopes out safer places for City Hall

STANWOOD — Leaders are looking to study possible locations for a new city campus that would move City Hall and the police department out of the downtown floodplain.

Officials hope to have a preliminary cost estimate, site layout and work schedule by early April. They started seeking proposals from architectural firms in December to plan those details.

However, the architects first must determine whether the city’s top two locations would be suitable for the campus, which would include both the City Hall and police department, city administrator Deborah Knight said. A feasibility study will look at factors like size, access and environmental concerns.

City leaders are most interested in an undeveloped piece of property at 26820 Pioneer Highway, off Highway 532 near the Stanwood-Camano School District office and Stanwood Fire Station. The city’s second choice is in the same area, between the fire station and the Haggen shopping complex.

“Before we go and buy something, it’s really important to do our due diligence,” Knight said.

The City Council won’t decide on purchasing either property until the study is done, she said. It’s likely to take at least six months.

The council set aside $500,000 in Stanwood’s 2015-16 budget to find and evaluate a new City Hall site.

Stanwood City Hall is located in a floodplain and cannot be fully renovated without floodproofing the building, which would require elevating the structure about 8 feet. If state grant money comes through, the budget includes $750,000 to elevate and renovate the existing building rather than move. However, the city has not yet heard back about the grant, Knight said.

The cost of the relocation study won’t be finalized until the council awards a contract. The group is scheduled to do so by Jan. 22, but could end the project at any time if another option — such as elevating City Hall — moves forward instead, according to council documents.

While officials look into a new city campus, a $164,000 remodel of the Stanwood Police Department continues on schedule. The department is closed during construction and should reopen in March, Knight said.

The police station is about a mile away from City Hall and also falls within Stanwood’s expansive floodplain.

Putting police and city offices on the same property could be good for customer service, access and security, according to council documents. Designers would gather ideas from police, city staff and the public before doing any detailed sketches of the buildings.

“It’s at the design stage that you really want public input,” Knight said. “That might not happen until next year.”

The deadline for architectural firms to submit a proposal to the city is Jan. 9, and the study is scheduled to start in February.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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