A project that began with an ice cream bribe has taken another big step to completion.
The town of Marana conducted a groundbreaking ceremony on Jun. 7 to celebrate the start of construction on the new Marana Police Department Facility.
The new police station, which should be completed in the summer of 2018, will be built on the eastern portion of the Marana Municipal Complex campus, allowing the police department to move out of the current home in the main portion of the complex that serve more as office space rather than a proper police station.
“I think it will be a transformative new addition to the Marana campus here,” Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said at the ceremony.
The project started when then-new Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema presented Davidson with the idea of building a new police station. As a peace offering of sorts, he showed up with a cooler that contained a Peanut Buster Parfait, Davidson’s favorite treat. The ice cream was a tasty way to broach the subject of the new facility. Davidson noted that he is approached every day with requests to spend money and more often than not it is his job to reject those requests.
In this case Chief Rozema and his staff outlined the reason why a new facility was needed and drafted a plan of action that included getting the support of both the Marana Town Council and the public.
“The building project is not starting here today,” Rozema said. “The building project started years and years ago. It actually started when started having conversations and talking to Gilbert (Davidson) about our vision for the police department. He might not call it talking, he might call it nagging, but none the less we had a lot of discussions.”
The council was on board, but only if the department got full support from the public. Rozema then had to sell the public on the need for a new facility, as well as the cost. Over the next few months, he took to the bully pulpit to meet with business owners, homeowner’s associations and anyone else who would listen.
“I think the chief of police and his team met with every living being in Marana to talk about why we need an investment in this community of a new police station,” Davidson said.
Marana Mayor Ed Honea added: “I could not find anybody the chief has not talked to.”
Rozema even offered tours of the current facility to show the deficiencies and demonstrate the need for the new station.
Followign Rozema’s lobbying efforts, the Marana Town Council passed a temporary half-cent sales tax to fund the majority of the project. The rest will be funded with federal RICO funds, while the town will fund the capital improvements to the campus including water, sewer and parking.
Despite the tax increase, the town received no complaints to the project. A number of business leaders came out in full support of the tax increase as long as it remained temporary and was used solely to fund the project.
“We’ve had communities around that have done a half-cent sales tax
and had recalls and have had everything under the sun,” Honea said.
The town will have no debt on the building due to the use of the sales tax instead of a bond or loan.
“What we’ve done here is really astonishing,” Honea continued. “When we are through with this police station, it is paid for. Which is really neat.”
All parties involved credit the Marana Police Department’s relationship with the community and high level of customer service for the lack of public opposition to the plan. Since Rozema took over as the top cop in the department, the goal has been to make every interaction with the public a positive one. The philosophy paved the way for the support for the plan.
“That is a testament to the leadership of the department and everyone within the PD to have the respect of the community and the job that they do,” Davidson said.
The main reason behind the new building was to strengthen the department and keep pace with the community as it grows. A key feature to the new building will be the expanded training facilities, which include classrooms, a gym, a shooting range and a virtual training room available for region-wide use. The new building will also have expanded storage and evidence rooms, as well as adequate holding cells.
There will also be public meeting spaces, a community room and a public courtyard. The public areas will be used by other town departments and local organizations.
“What I was selling was not the construction of a building but what I was selling was a better police department,” Rozema said.