In a dramatic departure of longstanding city policy against urban sprawl and for supporting downtown and keeping it safe, Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz told the city council Thursday that he wants to move the entire Eugene police department out of downtown to a commercial office building across the river in North Eugene.
Ruiz said in a memo to the council that he would buy the isolated office building at 300 Country Club Road surrounded by surface parking lots from a private developer for $16 million. He said he would then spend $6 million more to move all city hall functions out of the current city hall building and into downtown space rented from other developers.
The $22 million expenditure plus unidentified millions more in annual rent payments and moving costs comes as the city has announced it will cut back on services to citizens and increase fees to close a widening budget gap of at least $12 million due to the deep recession. New offices, particularly free of downtown employee parking fees, is a top priority of city staff, but polls have shown taxpayers oppose the expenditure.
The Eugene City Council plans to vote on the big change in years of city hall planning without a public hearing on Wednesday. Based on past positions, the vote could be close.