By Wes Woods II
CLAREMONT – Instead of approving a Monte Vista location as the best site for a new police station, the City Council has decided to look at more options.
The commission will return to the council with the information before the end of the year, Claremont Police Chief Paul Cooper said.
The council at its Tuesday meeting accepted a report on the police station’s background, but did not decide to explore options to purchase the site at 1650 N. Monte Vista.
Council members asked the police commission to return later with additional information on more sites.
“I’m not necessarily disappointed,” Cooper said.
“We started this in 2002 and as each year ticks by, there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. But we’ll be getting the information to them (the council) by the end of the year.”
Cooper said the commission was asked to look at the current site at 570. W. Bonita Ave., the strawberry patch fields at Baseline and Towne Avenues owned by the Pomona Valley Protective Association and the Corey Nursery at Monte Vista.
Council also directed the commission to again talk to Pomona about working together for a possible station at Towne and Bonita avenues, Cooper said.
With the new police station costing an estimated $25 to $30 million and the building expected to last at least 30 to 40 years, Cooper said he understood the council’s request for more information.
Once the station site is chosen, Cooper said, there are the additional challenges of financing the construction, which could involve a bond. “We have our work cut out for us,” Cooper said.
Residents, he said, will have to be convinced “that the need is so great, they have to potentially dig in their pocket to help pay for that.”
During a slide presentation at Tuesday’s council meeting, viewers saw photos of a separate trailer for women officers to dress in, overcrowded lockers and files of evidence threatening to spill out of their boxes.
Mayor Ellen Taylor, Councilwoman Linda Elderkin, Councilman Sam Pedroza and other council members expressed gratitude with the presentation, but discussed the possible use of eminent domain when government takes private property for a public purpose for some hotels near the 10 Freeway and other areas.
“Most of the violent crime is along Indian Hill and below the freeway,” Councilman Peter Yao said after the meeting. “A strong police presence there would be a good thing. If we’re going to spend 20 to 30 million, we shouldn’t settle for what’s available but a site that improves our enforcement.”
The city would consider the use of eminent domain in “What is good for Claremont. We truly have to come up with a spot that’s ideal and benefit the majority of people in Claremont,” Yao said.
Hotel Claremont, at 840 S. Indian Hill Blvd., “Has always been an issue because of some of the questionable activity that goes on in there. And this could be one way to address a couple of problems.”
On Tuesday night, Yao said the location of the police station was important because response times were key to a successful police department.
Cooper on Wednesday said he felt “the impact on crime” and “making the community safe to work in” were more important for his department.
“Response times fit in the whole calculation,” Cooper said.
The Police Department has officers on patrol for 24-hours-a-day and seven-days-a-week and they are not all in the station, he said.
“If we do move out of the center [of Claremont], we can maintain our response times,” Cooper said.
Councilman Corey Calaycay said the entire council was in agreement that “we needed more information because it was clear everyone was poking holes in what was brought before us.”
The reason for the council’s decision to wait for more information is, “Once we get to the point to introduce any financing mechanism, we have to have a solid plan for voters to consider if we expect it to succeed,” Calaycay said.
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