Why Pay Sun-Star For The Wrong Police Station Site?

By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Publisher
August 10, 2017

Just because the price seems cheap, it doesn’t mean that the old Merced Sun Star building is the right location for the new city police station.
We agree with the city, a new police station is long overdue.
The Merced Sun Star site, offered for $1.6 million, is the wrong site in the wrong location — and it does not have any quick access to G Street going north, or offer public accessibility for residents of south Merced.
Can one imagine a significant police emergency where additional officers and detectives in support vehicles leave the station (the old Merced Sun Star building) then head south to the Alexander Road crossing; do a u-turn at Alexander, and then head north only to meet a four way signal light at Olive Avenue?
The Alexander street crossing is already busy, and the Olive Avenue crossing is already a mess during high-traffic times.
Let the city fine a more appropriate site. One which provides accessibility for the south side of town.
G Street is the right street because it has the railroad underpass, but buying the old Sun Star site just puts the city in a much greater bind.
And asking the city taxpayers to pay another tax to build a new police station building on the site is not going to work.
Local taxpayers are already paying a tax for improved police and fire safety.
We have long thought that the police station presently being used near M Street should be purchased by the county to become part of the Merced County Sheriff’s Department. However, since the county is in a battle over giving the sheriff’s deputies a pay raise, buying the existing MPD building is probably out of the question.
We have advocated for a location for the new police station closer to the downtown Merced core, but that idea seems to have no support from the City Council. Almost any site for a police station would involve buying some other property with buildings already on the property. However, this may not be such a bad idea since reports on the old Sun Star building reveal that it can’t be renovated. It would have to be torn down and replaced with a new building for the station.
Since the Merced Fire Department already has a station on east 16th Street, what would be the problem with locating the new police station next to it?
There is easy access to G Street in both directions.
There is easy access to Yosemite Parkway heading east under the two underpasses, and such a location would be closer to Merced’s “hot spots” where a lot of criminal activity takes place.
Why place a police station where there is the least amount of crime and violence?
Is this to be a show place, or a place that’s accessible to all residents, a place where emergencies can be handled in the shortest amount of time possible, and a place that helps overall criminal activity be deterred?
We feel the city needs to take a thoughtful look at where criminal activity is taking place. Access to these areas is paramount.
Spending city money on a building site like the old Sun Star is just a waste, especially when it is leased back to the present owners for $2,500 a month.
Spending more money on a bad idea doesn’t make it better.


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