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Colleges’ donation for police station woefully inadequate

By Peter Weinberger

Given that a majority of Claremont residents feel it’s time for a new police station, one might think 2018 is finally the year Measure SC will pass. I still think it has a chance, but unfortunately, with minimal help from the Claremont Colleges.

On the surface, the community is saying all the right things. It’s not that the Colleges didn’t donate, and $750,000 is a lot of money. It’s money that is desperately needed and I know the city appreciates the donation. Claremont City Manager Tara Schultz thanked them for their “continued partnership with the city.”

But for some reason, the Claremont Colleges are stuck using a formula that doesn’t come close to the contribution they should be making. They said the donation would be a percentage of the bond equal to the number of calls for service. Thus the $750,000 figure was born.

That may sound logical and pragmatic, but it’s a formula Claremont taxpayers cannot choose, and shows an absence in understanding of how police work, really works. Does the leadership at the Colleges really think Claremont police only serve and protect when someone calls to report a crime? I hope not.

A safe Claremont is a huge benefit to the Colleges in ways other than “cost of service.” The COURIER has already stated that parents pay top dollar knowing their children will live in a safe community. Do you think Colleges’ employees, from professors to administration, enjoy living here? You bet they do.

An important part of the Colleges’ business model is possible because we live in the City of Trees…not a city of parolees. This would not be possible without the excellent work of the Claremont Police Department.

An accurate guideline for the Colleges’ donation should be measured by the square-footage parcel tax, which is based on size of properties owned. Using this formula, the Claremont Colleges would pay $4.2 million toward the station. This amount is not only more realistic, it’s simply the right thing to do given the impact of city safety when promoting the Colleges.

Although the city elected not to use a parcel tax, it’s not a reason to vote against the measure. One tour of the current station and this becomes perfectly clear.

Yet here we are, accepting a donation of $750,000 that has not budged for over a year.

I’m not going to speculate, but it seems odd that a group of institutions that have been so generous in the past would make such a paltry donation for an issue so important.

What’s ironic is there are so many Claremonters who want a new police station. Yet here we are, faced with dissenting opinions after what seems like years of discussion. But voting no really isn’t an option either. The need is too critical.

Remember when the initial cost of a new police station was $50 million? Residents stated loudly that was too much to spend. So the ad hoc committee went to work and cut the price in half. They did what voters asked.

The COURIER will make an official announcement of our position on Measure SC in next Friday’s edition.