By Tony Krickl

The Police Commission has identified its top location for a new police station. A 7-acre plot of land just south of the city yard was chosen for its size, location, accessibility and visibility.

In December 2007, an architectural firm was contracted to review the top 10 sites identified by the commission as viable locations for a new police station. The 7-acre site was the top pick by the firm and won unanimous support among police commissioners.

The location is ideal for several reasons, said Carol Painter, Chair of the Police Commission. It is not located in the middle of a residential neighborhood, which could hinder mobility for emergency vehicles. It would be adjacent to the city yard where city vehicles are fueled and repaired. It would also be located across the street from the Pomona Valley Hospital development.

The commission has been looking for a 4- to 5-acre site that would provide enough room for a single or two-story building and ground level parking. The 7-acre site along Monte Vista Avenue would offer plenty of space for current needs and allow for future expansion, according to the architectural firm’s report.

“There’s not very much available land in Claremont,” Ms. Painter said. “So looking for some property that is feasible for a police station is very difficult. And this is a feasible site.”

Other benefits include the location’s high visibility, the relative flatness of the land and the site’s “excellent solar orientation,” which would allow for good natural lighting of the building.

An issue of concern for the city is that the land is currently used as a commercial site for Corey Nursery, which has been at the location for many years. City officials have said that the business owner, Gene Corey, may be interested in selling the land and relocating his business. Mr. Corey could not be reached for comment.

If a negotiated settlement between the city and property owner cannot be reached, the city can still forcibly take the land using eminent domain proceedings.

Another crucial point is that a good portion of the property sits in San Bernardino County. The city might be required to seek some licenses and approval from San Bernardino in order to operate across the county line.

Among the locations no longer being considered are the affordable housing site on Baseline Road, the Holliday Rock quarry north of the city yard, land owned by the Pomona Valley Protective Association that is used as water-spreading grounds and land owned by the city of Pomona with potentially “hazardous material on the site,” according to the report.

Since an assessment of the current police station was done in 2002, city officials have stressed the need for a new one. Built in 1974 to accommodate a staff of 25, officials say the current station is completely outdated and lacks the infrastructure needed for today’s technology.

The station also suffers from excessive overcrowding; with female lockers located in a trailer outside and no room for additional storage space, forensics, new equipment or staff meetings.

“It’s completely inadequate for our police station,” said Councilmember Linda Elderkin.

A new police station would cost somewhere between $25 and $35 million, city officials have said, and would need to be financed using a bond or assessment district with voter approval.

In recent priority setting meetings, the city council has consistently put the development of a new police station near the top of its priority list.

Claremont Courier: