Saying it needed more information, the Ada City Council decided to wait before choosing sites for a new fire station, 911 communications department and municipal court.

The council voted unanimously Monday to delay action on those projects until officials had more detailed information about possible sites. However, the council did select the corner of J.A. Richardson Loop and Mississippi Avenue as the site for a new police department.

The selection is the latest step in a process that started in 2010 when voters approved a proposal to extend a one-cent sales tax for five years. The proceeds are earmarked for a variety of capital improvement projects, including a new fire department, a new police/911 department and a sports complex.

The city set up a series of citizens committees to study each project, including the police and fire departments.

The Texas-based architectural firm Wiginton Hooker Jeffry evaluated several possibilities, including keeping the police department downtown or moving it to Richardson Loop, said principal Charlie Kearns. The firm’s rankings favored moving the police and fire departments to the Richardson Loop site.

Kearns said after officials choose sites for the facilities, they will study possible layouts and other issues.

“If this is to move forward, the next discussion would be — once a site is selected — to get down with the departments and really figure out what are the needs as far as exit, entry, that kind of thing,” he said.

The firm also looked at building separate facilities or having them occupy the same site.

Kearns said combining the police, fire and 911 departments at a single site would cost approximately $12.79 million, and separating them would cost about $14.08 million.

 

Choosing sites

Ron Bates, who serves on the police department committee, said moving the department to the north side of town would improve response times.

“With a bypass, we can get around to the southern part of the city rather quickly,” he said.

But members of other citizens committees said they needed more information before they could recommend sites for municipal court, the 911 department and the fire department.

Most of the debate focused on the fire department, which is currently located downtown.

Fire committee chairman Wendal Godwin said the panel visited several possible sites for the department, including the northwest corner of J.A. Richardson Loop and Mississippi, and found some other sites that were not on the city’s list. But he said the committee did not have detailed information about response times, which made the task of recommending a site more difficult.

“It was hard for us to determine which site was better than the other without knowing what that was going to do to response times,” he said.

Godwin said the committee had discussed putting the fire and police departments on the same property but did not recommend it.

Assistant Fire Chief David Painter told the council that Richardson Loop was at the bottom of the department’s list of possible sites. He added that he disliked the idea of having several departments occupy the same property.

“Everything that’s gone on today and all of our training says you do not put all of your eggs in one basket,” he said. “You do not put police, fire, 911 all in one spot for something to happen, and then they go away and you have nobody to head up anything.”

Painter and Godwin both they thought the council should delay its decision until more information was available, and councilman Shane Sweeney recommended sending the issue back to the committee for further study.

The council also delayed decisions on facilities for the municipal court and 911 communications.

In other business, the council appointed Jeff Warmuth as the new chairman of the Citizens Advisory Board.

Warmuth replaces former chairman Yancy Spivey, who resigned earlier this year.

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