Council votes to keep police substation open

During budget talks, the Port Orchard City Council decided to close down a police substation at McCormick Woods.

But comments from several citizens during the Tuesday, Jan. 22 meeting drove the Council to reconsider their original decision and keep the substation open during the lease agreement for space at McCormick Woods Golf Course. The substation opened in June 2010.

Under the lease agreement, the city pays the golf course $1,800 a year or $150 per month to rent the space.

Mayor Tim Matthes said he received several emails concerning the substation.

Joseph Torrisi, a McCormick Woods Homeowners Association board member, said the substation improves the presence of the police department on the west side of the city.

“The substation gives our police a centralized location which enables them to respond quickly,” Torrisi said.

Torrisi said he understands budget cuts by the city, but the benefit of keeping the substation far outweigh the financial costs. He said the McCormick Woods Homeowners Association was ready to contribute financially to keep the substation open.

City Attorney Gregory Jacoby said, several years ago, the city entered into a lease agreement with the golf course that addresses issue of liability, insurance and describes space.

Councilman Jerry Childs said during budget talks, the council “sometimes add, sometimes subtracts things.”

“I’m in favor in having the police department staff out there when they’re not out on call,” Childs said.

Dick Davis said the substation was one of three major issues under discussion during the annexation.

“We were stunned after four years of existence, the substation dropped off the radar screen,” Davis said. “It is a tremendous asset to our community,”

Shawn Cucciardi, manager at McCormick Woods Golf Course, said the substation issue “could have been handled differently.”

Cucciardi asked the mayor, “Why was this (substation) singled out of the budget?”

Matthes said during the budget process, he recommended the substation, along with other items, be removed to come with in the restraints of the city’s income.

He said during the budget process, there were several public hearings and the budget process was open to public comments.

“I wish somebody would have picked it up and made comments,” Matthes said. “That is where it could have been included back into the budget.”

“When dealing with issues of public safety, we need to sit down and prioritize services government can give,” Cucciardi said. “To eliminate something from a budget, you need to share in dialog. Call and discuss this with people before you eliminate something.”

Councilman Robert Putaansuu said he was “embarrassed” over the substation issue.

“I’m embarrassed that it took a group of citizens to come here tonight and gives us a piece of their minds over this issue and press us to take action, it should have never been an issue,” he said.

Police Commander Geoffrey Marti said the substation never closed, but the police department was aware the city no longer wanted to utilize the space.“We were getting prepared not to use the space,” he said.

He said the substation functions as a place officers can go to and file reports, make phone calls and follow ups.”

The substation office, located in the new maintenance facility at the golf course, gives officers quick access to the McCormick Woods residential area, The Ridge residential area north of Old Clifton, as well as the Sidney and Sedgwick business area.

The substation was not staffed and not open to the public.

The office space is intended to give officers a location where they can get out of their car, have workspace to complete necessary reports and have telephone access without having to drive back to police headquarters.

The equipment for the substation was paid for by a federal grant.

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