Kentucky Opens Controversial $12 Million Emergency Operations Center

December 30, 2008

A new $12 million public safety building in Kentucky that became a top campaign issue last fall has opened.

Some candidates campaigning for city offices in November elections criticized the structure in Frankfort as too expensive. It now houses the city’s police and fire departments, a dispatch center and an emergency command operation for use in disasters.

The city used a $93,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to buy the technology in the Emergency Operations Center room, said Mayor Bill May. The expense of EOC was less than 2 percent of the cost of the whole building, May told The State Journal newspaper.

The EOC’s 4,000 square feet of floor space were constructed to the guidelines set out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, May said.

“I think we did a very good job of managing our money. I don’t see how anybody can criticize having a fully equipped EOC.”

Former City Manager Ken Thompson lambasted the center during his unsuccessful bid for City Commission in November. Thompson said in June the EOC wouldn’t be used frequently enough to warrant its expense.

“What now is built is a special purpose facility that is quite elaborate for events that occur very infrequently,” Thompson said.

The facility’s current shape and size came after years of debate by city leaders. It began as a possible new police station and evolved into a home for all the public safety departments.

And it is filled with technology aimed at making it easier for public safety agencies to find out what is happening and where.

The third floor center has 32 Hewlett-Packard laptops at workstations lining the room. May said each agency manning a workstation will have access to information from dispatchers, road crews and emergency workers on the computers and displays.

The city will eventually get live feeds in its dispatch center and on four 65-inch Sharp LCD displays in the EOC from Transportation Cabinet traffic cameras around the city.

May said the city’s previous emergency operations center “the conference room for city commissioners work sessions at City Hall” was used for winter storms and the 1997 flood.

City Finance Director Steve Dawson said the total price tag of the building, including the parking costs and architectural fees, will be approximately $12 million. But, Dawson said, an exact figure isn’t yet known because not all of the bills have been submitted.


Information from: The State Journal

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