A new public safety center that Bartlesville voters approved four years ago finally will break ground in just a few days.
What's a parking lot now will soon transform into a state-of-the-art public safety complex in Bartlesville. The center will put Bartlesville police and fire departments under one roof in the heart of downtown. The building will be across the street from the public library and within walking distance of the courthouse.
“It's just gonna be a lot easier access for the citizens,” Bartlesville Police Captain Jay Hastings said.
Voters approved the $5.7 million project in 2012. City leaders say they were careful and meticulous in drawing up plans with the architects.
“It was extra planning, but I think it's gonna pay off in the end,” Hastings said.
Plans have been finalized for some time, but a legal matter got in the way. The project was slowed over a lawsuit regarding a bidding issue. The city can't comment because the case is still pending, but a judge ruled construction can move forward.
“This'll definitely be an eye piece for everybody as they come into town,” engineering director Micah Siemers said.
The center will built next to the historic fire station.
“It's a neat structure and I think the public and the citizens wanted to save that and reuse that if possible,” Siemers said.
The 1940s department will be remodeled and incorporated into the new building.
“It's too small to house some of the larger trucks, as far as the apparatus bays, so we'll be adding on to that to get larger equipment to serve the larger downtown buildings,” Siemers said.
The new complex will move police headquarters several blocks south and out of a flood plain.
“The new building is going to be more efficient,” Hastings said.
Hastings says the current police department was originally built in the '40s as a Department of Human Services office, then it was added on to in the mid-80s.
“We've never really had our own building,” Hastings said. “From the beginning we had to fit into another building a police department.”
Hastings says the heating and air units are failing, the roofs repairs... and taxpayers are footing the bill for space left empty when the jail and dispatch center moved to the county.
“How can you justify putting money into a rooftop air conditioner when you are getting ready to move to a new building? There's just been a lot of patches put on stuff," Hastings said.
Police and firefighters are ready to make the move, but more than anything, they’re excited about how the new center will impact the community by creating a more inviting space.
“If we can provide a more comfortable area and make that communication less intimidating, I think the general public does benefit from that,” Hastings said.
Construction begins Monday and city leaders hope the center will be open by early next year.