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Temporary move of county 911 center would cost $2.29 million

March 02, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Saying space is cramped and there's no room to expand, Washington County's director of emergency services wants to move the 911 Communications Center from an outdated basement on West Washington Street to another county facility on Elliott Parkway.

But the move, which would cost $2.29 million, probably wouldn't be permanent.

In another 10 years, Director of Emergency Services Joe Kroboth said, he'd like the communications center to move to a larger emergency services complex that would house the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, police dispatchers the Special Operations Team and other emergency services agencies.

The complex would cost $2.89 million in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, according to the county's proposed Capital Improvement Program for fiscal years 2006-2011. Design and construction of that building tentatively is set for fiscal year 2010,

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While the County Commissioners backed the concept of the first move to the Department of Water Quality building on Elliott Parkway, they all had concerns about the cost of the move.

Of the $2.29 million price tag, the Maryland Emergency Number Systems Board would pay $1.69 million, while the county would pay $771,150, Kroboth said.

The rest of the project would be funded by grants and other sources.

"I'd just hate to waste tax dollars if we're going to abandon it in five to 10 years," Commissioner John C. Munson said.

"I was totally floored by what they're proposing for the cost of this project," Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said.

Wivell questioned the price of some of the furniture that would be bought in the first move, including $12,000 each for 11 work stations and $600 each for 11 chairs for dispatchers.

Kroboth said those prices were in line with the price of work stations needed for 911 centers and that the chairs are specially designed for rugged use.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said he thought the cost of the project should be lower. He said the Department of Water Quality building was in good shape and didn't need extensive renovations.

"I can't see that level of funding to retrofit a building that's in good shape," Kercheval said.

Kroboth said the 911 Communications Center would take up two floors of the Water Quality building. The second floor would be a secured area and house the communications operations, including space for 10 dispatchers and the shift supervisor, an emergency operations center and offices.

The first floor would contain administrative offices, space for fire and rescue training classes, a conference room and space for various other uses, Kroboth said.

"I think this will serve our needs," Kroboth said.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners would take a closer look at the cost of the move and the possibility of keeping the 911 center at the Water Quality building longer than 10 years.

Should the 911 center move to the consolidated building in nine to 10 years, Kroboth said the space at the Water Quality building could be used as a backup location for emergency personnel.

Kroboth said the site of the current center at 33 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown was inadequate to handle a major disaster, can't accommodate necessary technology upgrades and lacks the space to provide classroom space for training for emergency responders.

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