Eric Swanson Staff Writer email@example.com
The Ada City Council sent the Citizens Advisory Board back to the drawing board Thursday to consider possible sites for new police and fire stations.
The council directed the CAB to study the possibility of building both stations at one of two sites: Either 14th and Townsend or East Central Boulevard and Cradduck Road. The CAB will report back to the council on Sept. 16.
Council members said they were looking at ways to cut costs, which prompted them to ask the CAB to consider a single site for the police and fire stations.
“Fourteenth and Townsend’s the recommendation that they sent us already,” said Mayor Greg McCortney. “The fact that a co-located facility on Cradduck and East Central could cost about a million dollars less than 14th and Townsend makes me want more information.”
McCortney noted that Wendell Godwin, chairman of the CAB’s fire station subcommittee, had already told the council that East Central and Cradduck would not work for a new fire station.
“If that is the final answer, then that’s fine,” McCortney said. “I just want to make sure and ask the question with some dollar figures in front of it, which is, is it a million dollars no? Because when it’s all said and done, it’s about a million-dollar decision on which place we would co-locate.”
Councilman Shane Sweeney said the council wanted more information before choosing a site for the projects.
“We assigned the CAB to help make these decisions, and we need some more help in deciding what site would be the best for both facilities,” he said.
The CAB oversees the development of several capital improvement projects, including new police and fire stations. The city is financing the projects with the proceeds from a special one-cent sales tax, known as the “Penny for Our City” tax.
After studying several possible sites for both stations, the CAB presented three recommendations for the council to consider. Those recommendations were:
• For the police station, which would include a 911 communications department: East Central Boulevard and Cradduck Road.
• For the fire station: Either 14th and Broadway or Sixth and Townsend.
• For the police station, the fire station or both: Fourteenth and Townsend, behind City Hall.
The first two recommendations came from the police and fire station subcommittees and were presented to the full CAB, which agreed to submit them to the city council. The third recommendation came from CAB itself.
Wendell Godwin said his subcommittee evaluated 13 sites, consulted firefighters and studied response times and other issues before deciding to recommend two sites for a new fire station. He noted that both sites are within the city’s zone for new market tax credits, a federal program designed to spur investment in businesses and real estate projects in low-income areas.
City officials may decide to seek tax credits to help offset the cost of the new fire and police stations.
Godwin said the subcommittee had considered building the police and fire stations on the same site, but the city council would have to decide whether any cost savings were worth the risk.
“Yes, there are cost advantages, and some synergies can be realized by sharing common spaces like training rooms, conference rooms, meeting rooms and parking lots,” he said. “The question that has to be answered: Is the potential cost savings more beneficial than the risk? Are the proverbial eggs in a single basket?
“Should a natural disaster, a power outage or some form of attack be delivered, you risk having total service outage for the entire city.”
The police station subcommittee studied six potential sites before deciding that East Central and Cradduck was the best choice for a combined police station and 911 communications department, said Chairwoman Julie Thompson. She said the property is divided into two smaller units, including a 1.75-acre parcel that might cost about $625,000.
Thompson said the adjoining parcel contains approximately 4.3 acres and has an asking price of $325,000 — significantly lower than the other sites.
“This is an awesome, awesome price point when we’re looking at how much acreage you would get and what we could do there,” she said.
Thompson said the East Central and Cradduck site could accommodate a new police station with room for future expansion. She added that the property is ready to go apart from some dirt work and tree removal.
Two buildings, one site
The council also heard from Don Greer, vice president of the Texas-based architectural firm Wiginton Hooker Jeffry. The firm has studied several possible sites for the new police and fire stations.
Greer said the city could cut costs by building the two stations on one property because the facilities could share a public lobby, training rooms and other amenities. He added that the city would not save much money by cutting back on minor details.
“The dollars are in the square footage,” he said. “That’s really where you need to look for those because if you can reduce your square footage, get that as tight and efficient as possible, you get your savings early and up front. And you can start to count on those as you get deeper and deeper in the process.”
Greer said the site at East Central and Cradduck has enough acreage to accommodate combined police and fire stations.