The walls of the Berea Public Safety and Municipal Building went up quickly last week after a spell of favorable weather. According to construction foreman Jeff Titus, the project has a good chance of being finished by the originally predicted completion date at the end of September 2017.
In the days ahead, steel workers will likely install the metal skeleton of the upper floors, and the last three concrete floors of the building will soon be poured. As workers make progress on the outside of the structure, city staffers will be turning their attention to some of the details of the interior this week, according to officials.
The 44,300 square-foot, two-story facility will combine the city’s administrative, police and fire departments under one roof, bringing 75 percent of the municipal staff into the same building. Officials say that will make for better inter-departmental communication and efficiency.
With three large equipment bays, the fire department will finally be able to store a ladder truck in the Chestnut Street facility, something the BFD hasn’t been able to do because the old truck bays were too small. Additionally, the Chestnut Street facility will have a training tower as well as modernized living quarters for firefighters. To the right the crane is the wall of the equipment bay.
The fire department will feature larger, more modern sleeping quarters for firefighters, something that has been lacking in recent years. Unlike the current facilities, the boarding rooms will be able to accommodate female firefighters for the first time, broadening the city’s options for recruiting.
A view from the space that is to be the mayor’s office and through the shells of future administrative offices. One prominent feature of the building plan is to install a new phone/IT network, a change that will enable the city to cut ties with its current carriers and save taxpayers a lot of money.
View from the front of the municipal building, toward the firehouse. While the new building will retain the classic look of a brick city hall and fire station, it will also include several modernized features, including:
- A more secure area for citizens to file police reports and consult with police officers in private;
- Allow the city to secure access to city offices;
- A sally port that will allow police to drive cruisers into the lower floors of the station to help ensure suspects won’t escape custody;
- A secure place deep in the basement of the building where city government can continue operating in the event of a natural disaster or emergency;
- Solar panels on the roof so the city can take advantage of renewable energy.
This won’t be the first time the city has financed a large purchase. Berea has temporarily carried debt for other big ticket projects in the past and paid them off ahead of time, including the $10 million water plant, $13 million for new sewer facilities, and $22 million to acquire the electric utility from Berea College. In all of those cases, the city saved money by paying off its obligation well ahead of schedule. “We have the history of being able to financially cover these projects,” Stone said.