City officials in Kent
aren't shying away from specifics regarding the income tax hike earmarked for a new police station that they hope voters will pass Nov. 5.
A new police station is needed, they say, because the existing one no longer can accommodate the department's needs and is in such poor condition that it is not cost-effective to continue pouring money into short-term fixes. And, they add, continuing to defer action is no longer an option.
If voters approve Issue 4, which would hike the city's income tax from 2 percent to 2.25 percent, money generated by the increase would pay for a new Safety Administration Building. Current cost estimates are about $18 million, with payment to be spread over roughly 25 years. When the project is paid off, the tax hike would be rescinded.
If the tax increase is rejected, the city still plans to proceed with plans for the project. The money to pay from it will come from cuts in the city's annual budget -- to the tune of about $1 million per year. That likely will mean cuts in city services; personnel also could be affected.
We commend city officials for their transparency on this issue. We also urge voters to take the opportunity to tour the existing facility and see first-hand how deplorable its condition is. Continuing to sink money into a dilapidated building, one with portions dating to the 1920s, makes no sense.
The bottom line appears to be that Kent will be getting a new police station. The new facility will be built next to the existing one on South Water Street and will span the block between Haymaker Parkway and Summit Street.
The project calls for the acquisition and demolition of several neighboring properties, one of which is a landmark structure at the corner of Summit and DePeyster streets that was the original site of the Ferrara grocery store. The building, which dates to the 1930s, is a small brick structure, an eclectic design by architect Charles Kistler, whose work includes a number of other downtown area buildings, including the Kent Theatre block, the Bissler Block, the Venice Cafe and the L.N. Gross Co. building, now the site of Dale Adams Enterprises.
We hope that there is some way of saving it. It isn't too early to begin exploring options to do that.