Council should offer plan on new police building

Grand Junction isn’t giving up on building itself a Taj Martial.

Sure, the business of building a new police station has been out of sight and out of mind for most people since the voters, sniffing recession in the air, turned down a gigantic public safety complex back in 2008.

Undeterred by the setback, the Grand Junction City Council has embarked on what has become known as a “listening tour” of the populace in hopes of learning just what exactly the residents of this fine burg would like to see in the way of a home for the local constabulary.

Listening tours, like so many terms generated by political types to serve their own purposes, have less to do with listening and everything to do with touring.

In other words, it’s all about appearances.

One part of the listening tour was sending out students at Mesa State College to grocery stores, where they asked shoppers to fill out forms asking whether the shoppers favored a new downtown police station, changes to the 911 call station or changing what is now known as the downtown fire-EMS station. It also inquires as to whether the city ought to build some neighborhood fire-EMS stations.

To be sure, the survey offers a bit of opinion range for people who agree to answer while they’re filling the trunk with the weekly groceries.

Among the choices: Do nothing except save money until there is enough for a major project or proceed immediately so as to employ construction people and take advantage of lower construction costs.

Respondents might do well to remember the Riverside Porkway, better known as the Road to Nowhere, By Design.

Not two years old, the porkway already has been the scene of a California-style backup as lanes were squeezed this month to accommodate road work. Road work.

The police, in a nice touch of irony, parked a black-and-white in a closed lane to slow drivers who might have been under the unfortunate belief that the parkway was intended to be a high-speed downtown bypass on the way to somewhere else — not counting Delta.

Perish the thought.

Well, except for the bypass part.

The porkway illustrates the problem that confronts the council.

It’s an $80 million roadway that did nothing to increase the value of the land through which it passes.

By ordinance, no driver of the porkway will be spared the stunning view of the rail yard by the occasional billboard. Nope, no view of the tracks shall be marred by advertising.

No business that might be expected to generate sales tax, which, by the way, is the revenue stream for the porkway, is intended to have access from the porkway.

To be fair, the porkway is to link up with 29 Road at some point and 29 Road is to offer traffic a more direct route to Interstate 70 from U.S. Highway 50.

Exactly what the payoff is for that connection is unknown.

Which brings us back to the Taj Martial and the appurtenant structures the city is inquiring about.

Anyone who has been paying attention, and several who have not, are aware that the police station at Seventh Street and Ute Avenue is old, tired, inconvenient and difficult for people to visit.

The next-door fire station isn’t much better. Clearly some sprucing up, at a minimum, is in order.

Instead of a “listening tour” aimed at offering residents a bit of misdirection, the council needs to come out directly and say what it wants.

Perhaps more to the point, members of the council should tell us exactly the direction they think is in order: Let council members and challengers offer plans and let voters determine whose ideas are better after a spirited debate, rather than a “hearing, just not listening, tour.”


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