Residents driving around the old Richland city hall site on the corner of George Washington Way and Swift Boulevard may have noticed that the for sale signs are no longer sitting along the street. Instead, the three signs are bunched in the middle of the property.
“For the time being we are wrapping up an assessment of how much space the police station will need for future expansion. We don’t want to sell the land and put ourselves in a bind later,” City Manager Jon Amundson wrote the Observer in an email.
The old city hall was demolished in the summer of 2019. Ideas for replacing it started almost immediately. Suggestions ranged from expanding John Dam Plaza which is adjacent to the police station to building a performing arts center on the almost three-acre site.
Residents’ opinion about expanding the police station on its current location are mixed. Some people have told the Observer that the station with razor wire protecting police vehicles looks like a prison and makes Richland appear to be a high-crime area.
Others, like Ann Fraser, believe that a police station belongs in the downtown area.
City officials have discussed putting the police department in another area of Richland. The city owns almost 100 acres near Queensgate Drive and Duportail Street that has been mentioned as a potential location for a new police department building.
Currently, the Richland Police Department is budgeted for 87 people, 68 officers and 19 support staff, according to Administrative Assistant Bunnie Avery. The department has eight openings for officers.
The 2020 U.S. Census data shows that the city of Richland encompasses 35 square miles; it is the seventh largest city by area in Washington. The city has grown in all directions and has 22,000 households.
The four squads of seven patrol officers each cover that area and report out of the police department headquarters on George Washington Way.