Linn County employees J.R. Erspamer and Robert Muro were busy Thursday morning tearing down walls at the former Albany Police Department as part of a $1 million renovation project to turn the building into office space for the state’s Parole and Probation Department.
Linn County Administrator Ralph Wyatt said work began the last week of December and is expected to be completed by early summer.
“Basically, we are remodeling the space with the intention of leasing it to parole and probation,” he said. “We are one of two counties — the other is Deschutes — that does not run parole and probation. The state runs the program.”
Wyatt said the county expects to pay about $750,000 toward the project, with other funds coming from Energy Trust and the state.
The Parole and Probation Department currently is located in downtown Albany.
Linn County purchased the 10,323-square-foot main building, a 1,152-square-foot modular and 1.69 acres from the city of Albany as part of a package deal that included the National Guard armory on Knox Butte, which sits on 5 acres.
The county paid $1.7 million for both properties, although they had a combined assessed value of about $2.73 million. The police building was valued at $1.18 million and the armory was valued at $1.55 million.
Advantages for the county are that the Police Department building sits next to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and jail and the armory is next to the Linn County Fair & Expo Center.
The advantage for the city is that it received cash for the properties. Also, the county agreed to not take possession of the police building until the city’s new building was completed.
The transaction was funded by a loan from the County Road Fund. That's similar to how the county has funded other projects, such as renovation of the former USDA building in Tangent into the Extension Office, a renovation of the former Reddaway Trucking building near the jail for use by the Sheriff's Office and repurposing the former Weyerhaeuser office for segments of the Linn County Health Department.
At the time of the purchase, Commissioner Roger Nyquist said developing the old Police Department building into a parole and probation office provides instant access for inmates transitioning back into their communities.
“More than 70 percent of crime is drug- and alcohol-related," he said. "We want to get people linked up with services as quickly as possible, which has been shown to reduce recidivism in other communities.”