10 community meetings will highlight South Sound 911, $62M public safety communications center

South Sound 911 officials and Pierce County Councilmembers will host 10 community meetings over the next three months to provide briefings about a plan to build a new public safety communications center.

Pierce County voters authorized the project four years ago as part of a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to fund the consolidation of six disparate 911 centers and create a regional emergency communications radio network, according to Pierce County officials. The public safety communications center will house operations from six consolidated and collocated 911 centers, as well as administrative and public services, or a total of 250 employees, most of whom work various shifts to provide 24-hour emergency services, seven days a week. The intent of both actions was to improve the delivery of emergency services.

Pierce County officials report the center’s preferred site, located at 2119 Mildred St. W. in Fircrest, was selected after several months of study and discussion with South Sound 911′s governing boards. A preliminary agreement was executed in January with the intent to lock in the property while it was evaluated for its suitability and for legal review. The nine-acre parcel is approximately three acres larger than is needed. However, South Sound 911 is working with the City of Fircrest to possibly develop the excess acreage into retail or other commercial space, according to Pierce County officials.

The public safety communications center will be a “hybrid campus” comprised of two buildings and parking for employees and visitors. One building, approximately 55,000 square feet in size, will house 911 and dispatch operations and a municipal emergency operations center (EOC). It will be constructed to meet the National Fire Protection Association, National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards for public safety communications centers.

The second building, approximately 25,000 square feet in size, will house South Sound 911′s administrative offices and Information Services department, which offers a public counter for services such as fingerprinting and the processing of concealed pistol license applications. The administrative building will be constructed to meet general office and commercial building standards.

An alternate site was also identified at 6700 S. Adams St., but a purchase and sale agreement has not yet been finalized, according to Pierce County officials.

South Sound 911 selected a development team led by Trammel Crow Company of Seattle from a competitive bid process. Together, in partnership with the non-profit National Development Council (NDC), the new public safety communications center will be constructed using a “63-20″ project delivery and financing model. This model is a public-private partnership that offers an expedited design and construction process with a guaranteed maximum cost.

The project is estimated to cost $62 million and is expected to be completed in 2017.

Ten public meetings will be held in each of the County Council districts. South Sound 911 Executive Director Neiditz will speak about the project and provide a general agency. Here is the public meeting schedule (EDITOR’S NOTE: Meeting locations have changed twice since this story was originally published. Those changes are noted below):

  • Weds., April 29 @ 6 p.m. — Puyallup Public Library South Meeting Room, 324 S. Meridian, in Puyallup;
  • Mon., May 4 @ 6 p.m. — University of Puget Sound (Thompson Hall, Trimble Hall Room 193), 1565 N. Union Ave. 1500 N. Warner St., in Tacoma;
  • Tues., May 5 @ 7 p.m. — Mid-County Community Center, 10205 44th Ave. E., in Tacoma;
  • Mon., May 11 @ 7 p.m. — Bonney Lake Public Safety Building, 18421 Veterans Memorial Dr. E., in Bonney Lake;
  • Weds., May 13 @ 6 p.m. — Fircrest City Hall, 302 Regents Blvd., 115 Ramsdell St., in Fircrest;
  • Thurs., May 14 @ 6 p.m. — Graham Fire & Rescue Station No. 94, 23014 70th Ave. E., in Graham;
  • Tues., May 19 @ 5:30 p.m. — Gig Harbor Civic Center, 3510 Grandview St., in Gig Harbor;
  • Weds., May 20 @ 7 p.m. — Tacoma Fire Department Station No. 16, 7271 6th Ave., in Tacoma;
  • Tues., May 26 @ 6:30 p.m. — STAR Center (Voyage Studio), 3873 S. 66th St., in Tacoma;
  • Weds., June 3 @ 12 p.m. — Carr’s Restaurant & Catering, 11006 Bridgeport Way SW, in Lakewood.

“There is a lot of interest from the community about the public safety communications center and the mandate of the November 2011 election,” said Neiditz. “If we can help remind everyone of how we got to this point and dispel some myths and confusion about the project, I’m confident we will get to the place where we need to be, so that we can efficiently handle the emergency communication needs of the public and first responders in our region.”

More information is available online at southsound911.org.

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