Ted Wright statement to City Council during public participation on 2/1/2022

If you are open to hear ideas, a long term lease of RCH to DFPD may be the best decision for siting of a downtown fire station. 

I watched the Joint Session with City and County on the siting of the Homeless camp.  Siting solutions for the homeless camp have directly involved the larger public voice.  The complete opposite of that can be said for the siting of a downtown fire station.  By the fire services contract, DFPD can only justify spending millions of dollars of the money the City has been paying to DFPD under that contract, if it is for “an appropriate site” for a “downtown fire station”.  Determination of what is appropriate cannot be done unilaterally by DFPD.  That offends the common sense and good faith of the services contract.   

 DFPD has taken control of planning by effectively forcing the City to adapt to its purchase of 9R Property by moving City Police there.  DFPD is justifying the “downtown fire station” land use of the 9R Property by its purchase alone!  And, then , leveraging that purchase into a Public Safety Campus.  Spend first, ask questions later.  How come the plans on the DFPD website have PD all over them?  How far from PUBLIC view is that move.  The Public declaration by council has always been “no plan, no review, no objection”. So, no public engagement.  Now, after the purchase, on the DFPD website, there are plans for a Public Safety Campus at the 9R property – all done with no engagement of the larger public voice.   

 The concept of equal dignity came to my mind while listening to the City/County joint session on the siting challenges for the Homeless Camp.   At one point, Marsha Porter Norton referred to it as a “Dignity Campus”.  It meant something to hear it said that way.  At that joint session, there were collected, from the general public as well as others, 18 different sites.  Yes, one of the suggested sites for locating the homeless camp was the 9R property.  But, what is notable, is that we have siting issues for the Public Safety Campus and the Dignity Campus at the same time.  But the public has voice and choice in the Homeless Camp, but NOT in the downtown fire station.   

The public can be said to have been represented in the process that yielded URA plans, that included the 9R building, and multi-modal plans, that included the 9R property.   Those plans are revoked by the DFPD plans.  Why doesn’t the siting of a downtown fire station, that will disrupt existing plans, have equal dignity with the siting of the Homeless Camp?  Why doesn’t determination of “an appropriate site” under the fire services contract include the public voice?   

 And one more thing, when 9R sold to DFPD on 12/17, we know that 9R had faith in the DFPD that the historic preservation of the 9R building was in good hands.  I believe that faith of 9R was without condition.  However, DFPD believed its promise to preserve the 9R Building as historic was conditional, not absolute.  The condition is for the City to yield planning authority to DFPD, to move the Police Department to the 9R Building, to make whatever public infrastructure changes, parking closures and transportation adjustments necessary to create the Public Safety Campus.  If frustrated by planning involvement from the City, DFPD represented it would “have to” sell the 9R Building without provision for its historic preservation, for the money’s sake.

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