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City of Idaho Falls has decided where to put its new police complex

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The city of Idaho Falls recently purchased the stockyards on Northgate Mile owned by the Idaho Livestock Auction. The city plans to build a new Idaho Falls Police Complex on the property. | Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS — If all goes according to plan, the city of Idaho Falls will build a new police complex at the current location of cattle stockyards at 701 Northgate Mile.

Mayor Rebecca Casper made the announcement during a City Council work meeting Friday morning.

The decision comes after the city bought the property in September for $675,000. The eight-acre plot of land was studied as part of a $600,000 EPA grant. Given the history of the property, it needed to be evaluated for possible build-up of chemicals, fuel and materials from manure over the last 80 years.

RELATED | Idaho Falls signs off on $675,000 purchase of Northgate Mile stockyard, pending inspection

The results of the study came back more positive than expected, according to city officials. No EPA issues were found other than a small amount of asbestos in an existing building currently on the property. Officials say that was no surprise, and the abatement cost will be approximately $30,000, far less than originally expected.

The stockyards location meets all of the criteria the police department needed in a new complex, spokeswoman Jessica Clements tells EastIdahoNews.com. Those requirements include:

  • Property size. The land must be at least five acres.
  • Cost. The city paid $675,000 for the property, averaging $1.94 cents per square foot, which Clements says is comparable to or less expensive than other properties considered.
  • Proximity to high-crime areas. Crime “heat maps” show the new location is right in the middle of high-crime areas.
  • Ability to respond to all areas of the city. The new location is on a major thoroughfare.
  • Benefit to the community. The location will help revitalize the area and could lead to redevelopment possibilities nearby.

This map shows the locations of the last 5,000 incidents Idaho Falls Police officers responded to as of Oct. 18. A department spokeswoman says a crime analyst generated the map for several different time periods, and the result was nearly identical each time. | Courtesy Idaho Falls Police Department

The city looked at other sites for a police complex, including the old Deseret Industries building downtown near City Hall. Clements says that structure has been sold to an unidentified party, and the new owners have plans for it.

RELATED | Idaho Falls Police Department one step closer to getting its first police station

“Even if it was available, the property is only about 2.5 acres – which is too small to meet policing needs of the city. Besides (the fact) that the existing building is too small, renovating the current structure to meet necessary critical infrastructure standards for police facilities, which are different than the standards for commercial buildings, would have added several million dollars to the cost of the building,” Clements says. “In addition, the property sold for $1.2 million – so we would have paid double for less than half the size of the stockyards property.”

The old Shopko building on 17th Street was also considered, but the sale price was $4.2 million, Clements said.

An architect will be selected to create a rendering of the police complex and come up with a price tag. The city will begin accepting requests for proposals next week, and any architect who feels qualified is invited to apply, Clements says.

After renderings and costs have been decided, the city will work on how to fund the project.

“This has been a multi-decade long process, and while this isn’t the finish line, it is exciting to get to this point,” Chief Bryce Johnson says. “We are grateful to the City Council for taking this step and are looking forward to the steps to come. This is a good thing for the department and a really great thing for the Idaho Falls community.”

In a statement to EastIdahoNews.com, Casper says building the police station at the stockyards location will help the surrounding area.

“We expect much more discussion about plans to rehabilitate the site [the stockyard property], and with expert design and landscaping, turn it into a community asset that will lift the appeal of the surrounding area; renewal is one of the things that cities do well,” Casper says.

The Idaho Livestock Commission Company retains ownership of the property through the end of the year and will continue to hold auctions on the site. The city takes ownership on Jan. 1, and as part of the sale, the auction company has asked the police department to install a monument to honor the property’s history.

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