DPSST asks for final input before making site decision

The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training is preparing to conclude its siting process for a new public safety academy.

Before the site analysis is complete, DPSST wants to be certain that its information is accurate as to the most significant issue of concern related to the proposed Sweet Home site, Director Dianne L. Middle said in a letter to Willamette Industries. DPSST has been given phase I and II environmental reports on the Willamette Industries property proposed for the site.

“CH2M Hill has reviewed site evaluation information prepared to date and has confirmed DPSST’s concern that there is potential for cost impacts to the project and time delays associated with cleanup of the substances referenced in the level II environmental assessment,” Middle said in her Aug. 24 letter.

Willamette Industries has offered its former mill site located at the end of 24th Avenue to the state for the public safety academy at no cost. DPSST would need to remove buildings and take care of any environmental cleanup in exchange.

“Specific concerns noted … during the phase I and II evaluations resulted in Willamette Industries conducting a phase III study,” Middle said. “DPSST has been told that the phase III environmental assessment is complete and will outline the approximate cost and timeframe required for cleanup of he site. This study was to be delivered to DPSST on July 20, 2001. Since that time, several calls to you regarding the status of the assessment have not been returned and to date the phase III environmental assessment has not been received by DPSST.”

Middle asked that Willamette provide a copy of the study and submit in writing any additional information relating to the environmental evaluation that it would like considered by DPSST by Sept. 7.

In response to DPSST’s request, Willamette Property Manager Jody Esperanza replied in an Aug. 31 letter.

Willamette Industries received the draft phase III report the week of Aug. 20, Esperanza said in his letter. “As our environmental affairs manager, Corey Unfreid, and our environmental engineer, Kathy Sperle, were unavailable until this week, I was unable to meet with them to discuss the findings until Aug.30.”

Esperanza offered to meet with DPSST staff at its earliest convenience with Willamette and Kennedy-Jenks environmental engineering staff, who completed the studies. Willamette also hoped to have contractors at the Sweet Home site the week of Sept. 3 to perform additional evaluations of the site.

DPSST is considering four sites for the new academy, which will be used to train police officers and firefighters. The four sites are located in Monmouth, the present home of the academy; Salem, Sweet Home and Scappoose.

In an Aug. 29 letter, Monmouth City Manager Jeff Hecksel questioned how DPSST could be looking at Salem when three communities have put forward proposals as DPSST requested in July 2000. DPSST, in that request, asked for proposals from communities, indicating it would pursue unsolicited sites only when solicited sites failed to meet siting criteria.

“Given that statement, how is it possible the Salem site was included in the review of proposals solicited from local governments from around the state when the City of Salem did not submit a proposal?” Hecksel asked. “Monmouth, Sweet Home and Scappoose as well as many other communities put forth a good faith effort to attract DPSST. In Monmouth’s case, a good deal of time and money was spent. It seems grossly unfair, if true, that the state could submit its own proposal and compare it with all the others at the beginning of the process.”