Seattle council puts police bunker on hold

Sep 16, 2016, 5:56 AM | Updated: 8:13 am
north seattle police precinct...
The Seattle police precinct that's come under such heavy criticism lately has much more than just a firing range and gym. (SPD)

The proposed new North Seattle police precinct has been put on hold.

Council member Lorena Gonzalez said that the cost of the building — estimated at around $150 million — was a key factor in stopping the current proposal for the North Seattle police precinct.

Related: Council member critics tour aging police precinct

“Mayor Murray and I, and council members Tim Burgess and Debora Juarez, have come together to determine we need to hit pause on the north precinct project proposal,” Gonzalez said. “We all continue to have concerns about the cost.”

“And we’ve heard from a variety of community members who have expressed concerned about the cost since August,” she said. “We think it’s the most responsible and appropriate thing at this point to stop the project, take a step back and to reevaluate and look at whether this precinct actually meets the needs of the community.”

Shortly after the announcement council member Kshama Sawant posted on Facebook: “Our movement to #BlocktheBunker just won a HISTORIC victory!”

North Seattle police precinct ‘redo’

Gonzalez said the city has finite resources and she wants the city to establish a panel to provide fiscal oversight of the project. She also would like the city to hire a project manager from outside the City of Seattle to handle the future of the North Seattle police precinct.

“In my view, this is a complete redo … This will literally be a redo in terms of who is working on the project and what the project will look like,” Gonzalez said.

Via Twitter, Mayor Ed Murray said that his predecessor attempted to fold multiple projects into one big north precinct project. Since then, the project has garnered heavy criticism — many calling it a “bunker” and associating its construction with the issue of police militarization and issues of tense race-relations with officers. Murray now wants to look into whether a new north precinct can be split up into multiple locations, instead of one large location, and if it can be restructured to cost less. Murray also emphasized that he wants to consider racial equity moving forward on the project.

Gonzalez said that multiple precincts in Seattle’s north end will be on the table, but no decisions have been made.

The precinct has been controversial among some in Seattle who filled multiple city council meetings with passionate pleas — and sometimes abrasive comments to officials. A local movement to stop the construction of the police precinct also emerged in Seattle called “Block the Bunker.”

The precinct also caused a rift on the council with tense words being exchanged by O’Brien and Council member Debora Juarez.

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Seattle council puts police bunker on hold