Construction Begins On Police, Fire, Emergency Complex
July 18, 2007
By NIRAJ CHOKSHI, Courant Staff Writer
After seven years of delays and a huge increase in price, ground was broken in Hartford Tuesday on a public safety complex to house police, fire and other emergency personnel on property just north of downtown.
The complex's estimated $77 million cost is nearly twice the $40 million voters approved in 2000. It will be built on a nearly 6-acre parcel at High and Atlantic streets.
The project includes restoration of the old board of education building at 249 High St., which dates from 1891. That restoration added about 20 percent to the cost of the project, city officials said.
With 135,000 square feet of space in two buildings, the complex will house police, fire administration, fire marshals, central dispatch and other emergency personnel.
Mayor Eddie A. Perez said the complex will enable the police and fire departments to more effectively respond to emergencies.
"This building centralizes our homeland security effort by putting our first line of defense in an area to better respond to the community it serves - the entire city," the mayor said in a prepared statement.
The energy-efficient, "green" facility will be heated, cooled and powered by a central fuel system, according to a press release from the mayor's office.
Employees at the current police headquarters in the city's North Meadows have long complained about working conditions there. Union officials have said workers are exposed to air contaminants, mold and rodent infestation.
The city council is still considering a request by Perez to appropriate the extra $37 million needed for the new complex. Council President John Bazzano and Councilman Robert Painter have both raised concern about the increased cost. "It raises a red flag when you put a price tag on an item and then it increases by almost 100 percent," Bazzano said. "There is some concern. ... It's a lot of money. And questions will be asked."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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