City to ask residents about public safety facilities options

DALLAS — City officials say the Dallas Police Department and Fire & EMS need new or upgraded facilities, especially the police department, which shares space in Dallas City Hall.

“Anyone who has been in our (police) facility knows that they are spread across three or four different areas,” said City Manager Ron Foggin. “As we continue to grow, EMS and the fire service, those facilities are also in desperate need to grow.”

The price tag on providing new facilities gives some members of the city council pause, so much so that they would like more public input before moving forward.

The city hired Portland architectural firm Makenzie to evaluate two options for upgrading the police and fire and EMS departments.

The first had the police department moving to the former Department of Human Services building on the corner of Church and Oak streets near the Dallas Post Office.

That building and the fire station on Shelton Street would both be remodeled at an estimated cost of nearly $14.7 million.

The second option upgraded the fire station with a new building for police attached at an estimated cost of about $14 million.

Both options include a combined emergency operation center, community room and training facility at the fire station.

To reach those figures, Makenzie asked each department for current space needs, what amenities they needed but didn’t have, and how much growth is anticipated in the next 20 years, said Cathy Bowman, a project manager with Makenzie.

For police, that meant having department administrators close to police operations and secured parking for patrol vehicles. Fire & EMS needs a bunk room to provide 24-hour coverage, and would like to have fire and EMS operations in the same building.

Bowman added the new police station would need to meet “essential facility” seismic standards.

Councilor Micky Garus asked during Makenzie’s presentation on July 17 if the current owner of the DHS building completed the necessary upgrades, without having to pay prevailing wage to workers — a requirement for the city — if the cost would come down.

Jeff Humphreys, Makenzie’s director of architecture, said yes, by about 10 to 15 percent on the police remodel, not enough to close the gap between the two projects.

“When you compare apples to apples on the two options, a combined facility on existing city property is a much less expensive approach,” Humphreys said.

During a meeting Monday, the five councilors on the city’s Public Safety Committee were hesitant to move forward with either of the approaches with the prices tags attached.

Instead, they asked Foggin to research conducting a public opinion poll to gauge support for new public safety facilities.

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