Salinas Assistant Public Works Director Don Reynolds spent a recent Sunday morning pointing out dilapidated buildings on 6 acres along East Alisal Street. He was showing participants in the annual youth-led Ciclovía event where the rundown buildings would be replaced with a shiny new Salinas Police Department headquarters. “People’s faces would just light up,” he says.
Reynolds got the same reaction when he reached out to merchants located across the street from the future headquarters at 312 E. Alisal – between the railroad tracks and Highway 101 – part of an effort to make the rounds at meetings and events asking for input from residents and businesses on three exterior design choices.
More than choosing between styles, however, Salinas Police and planners are also asking residents to weigh in on a community room inside, and to brainstorm potential uses for a 2-acre “opportunity site” adjacent to the property. The plan is to create a space that will invite residents and police officers to interact in positive ways, says Cmdr. Stan Cooper.
Relations between police and residents have been troubled in recent years. The new headquarters is “one of many aspects we hope will continue to build those bridges,” Cooper says.
The plan is to replace decaying department offices on Lincoln Avenue, built in 1958. (That building, adjacent to City Hall, will become a city park.)
The $49 million project will be financed largely through voter-approved Measure G, a 1-percent sales tax that brings in about $20 million a year. The plan is to break ground on next summer.
At a town hall meeting on Oct. 11 at Sherwood Hall, Cooper presented to about 35 residents.
They were overwhelmingly positive about the project; an electronic vote showed 90 percent of them thought the headquarters will have a positive effect on the neighborhood.
Then they gathered in small groups to come up with ideas for the community room. Most wanted a kitchen so they could serve food during events. Other ideas included free internet and a “sound system that doesn’t fail,” one woman said.
Most voted in favor of turning the 2-acre plot into a park with a playground, a place for dogs, and soccer fields. Other ideas the city has heard for how to use those 2 acres include shops and housing.
The city is still looking for input through Oct. 31. Residents can vote online at surveymonkey.com/r/SalinasPSHQ. After that, planners will present the responses to City Council on Nov. 7.