Recently, I blogged about the latest jail proposal which includes too many beds for our community. However, it is not just the number of beds that is too large. This proposal includes a brand-new sheriff’s headquarters and guess what? It is too large and too expensive too. From the EIS scoping meeting, we have these details about the current proposal.
The sheriff’s headquarters and warehouse space add up to 70,000 square feet of buildings, not including the jail. It is difficult to get a grasp on those sorts of numbers so let me put that in perspective for you:
- It is over three times the size of the Bellingham Farmer’s Market and courtyard.
- It is more than half the size of our current Costco.
- It is twice as large as the Lightcatcher Children’s Museum.
- It is nearly three times as large as the Fairhaven Haggen!
So when I say it is too big for what we need, this is what I am talking about.
Examining just the proposed office space (38,000 SF), it is still an enormous amount of room. Currently, the sheriff’s department has 109 employees. Obviously, the entire workforce would not be located in the office at the same time, with deputies out on patrol, various shifts and the jail staff working in the new jail . . . but let’s say they did.
Let’s say we cram everyone who works for the sheriff’s department into this new office. That would give each person 349 square feet all to themselves. That is an 18ft by 18ft room. I’ve known studio apartments that are smaller than that. Look around where you are sitting. Imagine 109 of these rooms put side-by-side, and that’s just the office. It does not include the warehouse.
I know the sheriff department has specialized needs, but they already have an office. Now they are asking us for a brand new facility and this is their proposal? The county needs to hear us loud and clear, this is not a good use of our money. We need a facility that is the right size for our community, not an oversized pipe dream.