At a joint public meeting yesterday, South Sound 911 Policy Board and Operations Board members unanimously approved a motion to support the acquisition of the 5.34 acre site of the old Puget Sound Hospital. Pierce County officials originally proposed the evaluation of two adjacent parcels totaling 8 acres along Pacific Avenue. The boards’ action supports the pursuit of the single parcel at 3580 Pacific Ave.
South Sound 911 must reach an agreement with Pierce County for the site and the Pierce County Council will need to formally approve the agreement.
According to South Sound 911 Executive Director Andrew Neiditz and Pierce County Facilities Management Director Bret Carlstad, who spoke at the meeting, the land will be appraised and its cost to South Sound 911 will be the value of the land, minus the cost to demolish the hospital building. Other details and costs are still being determined.
Neiditz remains confident about the project plan and the timeline, which calls for construction to begin in March 2017.
Geo-technical and environmental evaluations of the site’s suitability for construction was completed for a previously proposed county construction project. South Sound 911 will not need to repeat the due diligence.
“The existing knowledge about the hospital site paves the way for staying on schedule,” Neiditz said. “Pursuing the single parcel is the preferred option, and provides the best value for the community, taxpayers, and South Sound 911.”
Other possible options for the originally proposed two parcels called for redrawing parcel boundaries or changing South Sound 911’s operational plans.
“The support from both boards, and from both fire and law enforcement, really signifies that this is a good path forward,” West Pierce Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Jim Sharp said. “It works for South Sound 911, it works from an operational perspective and, ultimately, will work for the communities we serve.”
Sharp is the South Sound 911 Operations Board chair.
In November 2011, residents of Pierce County voted for a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to support public safety, which included the consolidation of 911 centers. The South Sound 911 public safety communications center, which will house consolidated 911 and dispatch operations, is being built in cooperation with Pierce County for the project’s tax-exempt bond financing under the “63-20” project delivery and financing model.