Port Angeles agrees to Joint Public Safety Facility pact with Clallam County

The Port Angeles City Council unanimously agreed to a pact with Clallam County on a new Joint Public Safety Facility that does not include a west-end city fire station in the design phase of the project.

The council agreed on Sept. 20 to eliminate a proposed fire station as 30 percent of the design portion of the project, but it will be considered during the site selection process, meaning the site selected must have room for the fire station to be added by the city at a future date.

“It’s slightly disappointing that we are not getting that 30 percent design for the fire station, but I think we all realize just from a practical perspective that we’re not quite ready for that west side fire station to be a reality at this point,” councilor Mike French said. “So I think that is a reasonable concession to make.”

County and city representatives came together in 2018 with the idea of relocating the county emergency operations center and the city emergency dispatch facilities and have them both in the same building.

The county emergency operations center is currently located in the basement of the Clallam County courthouse while the city dispatch or Peninsula Communications (PENCOM) is located at the police station on Fifth Street.

“I want to recognize that this has been a long process,” French said.

“We started this project quite a while ago and it really feels like we are very close to moving forward in a productive way.

“I think this will be a multi-year partnership. It takes a long time to build buildings, and I think it’s really crucial that we have this agreement and have these really clear responsibilities for each party.”

Clallam County had raised concerns about including the city fire station in the design process, saying it could raise costs and lengthen the design phase, jeopardizing the funding that has been dedicated and must be used before July 2023.

The county has received $1.7 million in state funding and is a finalist for $3 million in federal funds.

The city has dedicated $2.5 million in capital facilities funds and $1 million in Peninsula Communications funds to the development of the Joint Public Safety Facility (JPSF).

Each government body is responsible for 50 percent of the costs for the design and property acquisition of the project.

The county is evaluating sites selected by the engineering firm it has hired to do the project with the hope that a site will be selected by the end of September if not in early October.

“I think it’s great that we are signing this management agreement,” council member Latrisha Suggs said. “But there is some vague language in it that does concern me that I think both the county and city will have to make sure don’t get overlooked.

Communication between the city and the county appeared to be a sticking point for council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin as well.

“I don’t want to hear about developments in this project from a reporter, and I think the city should be at any conversation that the county is having about this, and I hope that we will return that favor equally as other council members have suggested,” Schromen-Wawrin said.