Plans advance for Dickinson's Public Safety Center
If all goes well, the Dickinson Police Department and Dickinson Fire Department will be cohabiting in a Public Safety Center by late 2014 or early 2015.
Both departments have grown in recent years, along with the city, and both have run out of space at their current locations.
“It’s going to be a huge morale booster for our staff,” Police Chief Dustin Dassinger said. “We’re running out of space — we have a lot of people squeezed into offices and a lot of equipment squeezed into corners, so we’re definitely looking for more space and area for us to grow and expand in.”
The architects and engineers working on the project presented initial plans for the 42,000-square-foot building to the Dickinson City Commission at its regular meeting Monday.
“We spent two solid days with Chief Dassinger of the police department and Chief (Bob) Sivak and his staff of the fire department,” said Allen Rapacz, president of Schutz-Foss Architecture. “We went through the needs and asked them to dream a little bit and project into the year of 2040.”
The planning and design team hopes to have all paperwork complete by April, which would allow them to bid out the foundation work, Rapacz said. The project is estimated at $8 million to $13 million.
“As long as we’re able to meet budget and continue on moving forward with the commission’s approval, we would like to break ground some time next spring, depending on the construction season,” Dassinger said.
The commission gave its approval to move forward with the plans as presented on Monday evening.
“We’re very pleased that they’ve said to go forward with it,” Sivak said Tuesday. “Our need to have a presence on that end of town is becoming more important every day. We had two calls today that took us to the north end of Dickinson.”
The parcel of land that’s on the west side of north State Avenue is along a floodplain, and rather than fight it, the building has been designed to curve with the floodplain, said Herb Roth of Roth Sheppard Architects in Denver, a firm that specializes in public safety buildings.
“We’ve maintained that and taking on historical precedence where buildings were built along the floodplain, they usually follow the floodplain,” Roth said. “Hence the intimation of that sweeping curve within the building itself.”
While the total site is about 9 acres, the usable land for the building due to the floodplain is about one third of that.
“It was a challenge to be able to fit the building on the site,” Roth said. “That was our first task, to see if the site was applicable for a public safety center.”
Fire and police will have their own space, but there is some shared space like the lobby, breakroom and training room, Roth said. In addition to fire and police, the building is being designed to host the dispatch center.
The building is also designed with large glass walls, partly to show off the the fire equipment.
“They are visible both during the day and at night,” Roth said. “It provides what we call a beacon of safety, because that’s what the image of a public safety building ought to be. That’s where you come for whatever your public safety needs are.”
The “beacon of safety” is something that the police department can identify with.
“There’s a few buildings in the city of Dickinson that we really look at as flagship buildings,” Dassinger said. “We certainly want the Public Safety Center to be right in the realm of those buildings as well.”
The Stark County Sheriff’s Office, Southwest Multi-County Corrections Center and Stark County Emergency Management will stay in the existing Law Enforcement Center.
The Dickinson fire and police departments were roommates at what is now the downtown firehouse for 50 years, until 1982. The police moved to the present day Law Enforcement Center and the fire department expanded.
The Dickinson Fire Department will maintain its current firehouse as a substation, Sivak said. The administrative offices will move to the new building, but the dorms and equipment will stay.
“One central location doesn’t do for us what we need it to do,” Sivak said.
“It’s going to be a very nice building, but very functional, as well,” Dassinger said.