Leaders from South Sound 911 and members of the Pierce County Council will provide briefings about the agency’s plan to build a new public safety communications center at upcoming public meetings around the county. Voters in Pierce County authorized the project in November 2011 as part of a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to fund the consolidation of six disparate 911 centers and create a regional emergency communications radio network. The intent of both actions was to improve the delivery of emergency services.

The public meetings are being held in each of the County Council districts, where South Sound 911 Executive Director Andrew Neiditz will speak about the project and provide a general agency:

“There is a lot of interest from the community about the public safety communications center and the mandate of the November 2011 election,” Neiditz said. “If we can help remind everyone of how we got to this point and dispel some myths and confusion about the project, I’m confident we will get to the place where we need to be, so that we can efficiently handle the emergency communication needs of the public and first responders in our region.”

The public safety communications center will house operations from six consolidated and collocated 911 centers, as well as administrative and public services, or a total of 250 employees, most of whom work various shifts to provide 24-hour emergency services, seven days a week.

The center’s preferred site – 2119 Mildred St. W. in Fircrest – was selected after several months of study and discussion with South Sound 911’s governing boards. A preliminary agreement was executed in January with the intent to lock in the property while it was evaluated for its suitability and for legal review. The 9-acre parcel is approximately 3 acres larger than is needed; however, South Sound 911 is working with the City of Fircrest to possibly develop the excess acreage into retail or other commercial space.

An alternate site was also identified at 6700 S. Adams St., but a purchase and sale agreement has not yet been finalized.

The public safety communications center will be a “hybrid campus” comprised of two buildings and parking for employees and visitors. One building, approximately 55,000 sq. ft. in size, will house 911 and dispatch operations and a municipal emergency operations center (EOC). It will be constructed to meet the National Fire Protection Association, National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards for public safety communications centers.

The second building, approximately 25,000 sq. ft. in size, will house South Sound 911’s administrative offices and Information Services department, which offers a public counter for services such as fingerprinting and the processing of concealed pistol license applications. The administrative building will be constructed to meet general office and commercial building standards.

South Sound 911 selected a development team led by Trammel Crow Company of Seattle from a competitive bid process. Together, in partnership with the non-profit National Development Council (NDC), the new public safety communications center will be constructed using a “63-20” project delivery and financing model. This model is a public-private partnership that offers an expedited design and construction process with a guaranteed maximum cost.

The project is estimated to cost $62 million and is expected to be completed in 2017.

For more than two years, the agency has been working on projects and processes in support of the consolidation and collocation effort.