Radio projects to put finishing touches on police bond

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WALLA WALLA - What are expected to be the last two major financial projects funded through the new police station bond were unanimously approved last week by City Council.

On Wednesday, with all members present, Council voted to approve two radio communication improvement projects that could total as much as $165,000.

The projects would be paid for through the $11.6 million voter-approved police station bond that was passed in 2009.

The smaller of the two projects will cap at $45,000 and will improve portable radio communications inside the new police station.

According to city documents, a combination of structural material of the new building and the fill used in the bordering section of U.S. Highway 12 has left officers unable to use their portable radios while inside the police station.

"It's pretty bad. Dispatch will wind up calling (by telephone) over to our guys ... They have worked around the problem for a few months, but it is vital that we get that cleared up," Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber said.

The second project will cap at $120,000 and will require adding a new radio transmitter tower at Walla Walla Fire Station 2 to improve portable radio communications throughout the city.

Debora Zalaznik, chair for the Police Station Bond Committee which helped pass the bond in 2009, said her committee knew the new tower would be included in the bond, and she added that committee members continue to monitor what projects are funded through the police station bond.

"We actually were never appointed to do this. But we all are very passionate about this because we promised people it would only be spent on the new police station and its activities, and we wanted to make sure that would happen," Zalaznik said.

In 2011, the Police Station Bond Committee criticized the city for not clearly stating what its plans were for a $300,000 allotment of police bond money that was to be used to repair the old police station located in the basement of City Hall.

That dispute ended with city officials stating they would use the funds only for "cleaning up their space and making repairs to the existing space caused by the move."

Deputy City Manager Tim McCarty expects it will still be several months or longer before the city is ready to sign off on all expenses to be funded through the police bond, and added he only expected minor improvements in the future for projects such as improving signs or lighting issues.

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