WALLA WALLA - A dispute over how much police bond money can be used to fix up the basement of City Hall once police move out was settled last week, with the city giving assurance of what the money can and cannot be used for.
Last month members of the Walla Walla Police Guild and the citizens committee for the new police station sent letters to the city to "keep its word" to only use the $11.6 million in voter-approved bonds for work related to police facilities.
The original bond approved by voters in August 2009 allowed for some of the funds to go toward the old police facility at 15 N. Third Ave.
The city's bond ordinance also set a cap of $300,000 to go toward that work, but specific details were not included in that ordinance.
When Guild and citizens committee representatives heard that work was going beyond the scope of what was initially promised, they felt it was time to contact the city.
"For several months now there have been rumors that the funds dedicated to cleanup the old WWPD Facility are being inappropriately used ... we are asking you to assure us that these bond funds for the new police station are being used only for their intended purposes, and as promised to the public," a letter dated Feb. 16 by Committee Chair Debora Zalaznik and Treasurer Douglas Bayne stated.
On Monday, City Manager Nabiel Shawa met with representatives from the citizens committee and the Guild.
At that meeting Shawa provided the following assurance as to how the $300,000 would be used.
"The budgeted $300,000 shall be used for moving out the Police Department, cleaning up their space and making repairs to the existing space caused by the move," Shawa wrote in an email.
According to Shawa, the scope of work may include environmental inspection and if necessary remediation, such as abatement of lead paint, asbestos or mold; electrical wiring inspection and repair as needed for safety code compliance; repairs and replacement of the police antenna on the roof of City Hall; removal of old furniture, fixtures, and Police Department-specific alterations; and repainting and re-flooring if damaged due to the move.
Shawa also assured that the funds could not be used for structural wall modifications, window upgrades, seismic upgrades, energy conservation improvements, design costs for new uses and remodeling improvements.
"I am very appreciate of the city coming together to talk with citizens, and very appreciative of the trust established at the city and Council level with the citizens' committee group ... we don't want the police bond to ever be a negative discussion for the city," Bayne said.
In the initial Union-Bulletin article that appeared March 13, it was mistakenly reported that Walla Walla Area Crime Watch committee representatives had written a letter to the city. That letter was instead written by the citizens committee for the new police station.