City officials are saying the need for new facilities for police, firefighters and 911 dispatchers is essential for future operations.
The agencies have outgrown the current facilities and are not compliant with many codes. Should the one-cent tax continue, all three agencies would have new facilities.
Ada Police Chief Mike Miller said the police station was built in 1963 and is not sufficient for today’s police force.
“It’s almost 50 years old,” Miller said. “When it was built, we had 10 officers and one civilian employee. Now we have 34 police officers and 10 civilian employees and we’re just out of room.”
The plan, if the one-cent sales tax continues, is to construct a new police station/911 center with enough room for current and future staff and room so residents and victims of crime can speak to police in private. Currently, victims and those wishing to speak to police must do so in a common hallway.
Miller said a new facility would make police work more efficient which is essential in investigating and policing crime.
“It’s a good building, we just outgrew it a long time ago,” Miller said. “We’ve gone as far as we can go on expanding.
All three buildings are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A new police station would not have a jail which would allow the city to contract with the county. At present, the city jail is located inside the police station..
“There’s no reason we can’t contract with the county,” Miller said. “It make’s more sense to run one jail than it does two.”
Miller said the cost involved with contracting with the county would be about the same as the current operation and upkeep of the city jail which is plagued with problems.
“If people have any doubts, I would be glad to show them the police department,” Miller said.
Ada Fire Chief Marion Harris said the three main issues affecting the fire department are not enough space, violations of codes and the building is in disrepair.
Harris said Central Fire Station — built in 1909 — was refurbished in the 1930s and large stones were used on the exterior. The stones are starting to crack with age.
“There just a real problem and they’re starting to come loose,” Harris said. “We’ve spoken to restoration companies and talked to architects and they’re worried if we remove these stones and reattach them, we could cause other problems with the rest of the building. It’s just a real problem and we’re not sure what to do.”
The current building was built to accommodate fire engines which were smaller than fire engines of today. Harris said a new station would solve the problem with more interior space and wider bay doors.
He said the new station would be one-story tall and have drive through engine bays.
Ada Emergency Management Director Gene Linton said 911 dispatch — located in the west end of City Hall — shares space with the water department and has many of the same problems as the police and fire stations including not enough room.
Linton said a new 911 dispatch would have more room for much needed emergency equipment and allow dispatchers to work without being cramped.
The dispatch area opened in 2001 and covers 23 agencies county wide. According to Linton, there is a need for more dispatchers and equipment. However, “there is no room to grow,” he said.
The city’s plan — should the tax continue — is to construct the new police station/911 center near Pontotoc County Justice Center. The move would also allow expansion for City Hall and Water Department facilities. Residents will vote Tuesday, Aug. 24.