Monroe mulling over concept plans for new facilities

Monroe City Council will be doing some thinking about a number of capital improvement projects being proposed over the next five to 10 years. ED RICHTER/STAFF

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Monroe City Council will be doing some thinking about a number of capital improvement projects being proposed over the next five to 10 years. ED RICHTER/STAFF

As Monroe continues to grow in population city officials are wrestling with how many public safety staff to hire, and where to put them.

Last summer, the city commissioned a facilities study to look at the city’s future needs to house its safety departments. It originally looked at a combined safety departments building or building a new fire station on the city east side where retail and industrial development is growing.

Explore MORE: Monroe police, fire departments cramped for space

KZF Design presented some options for Monroe City Council to consider about its future facility needs for the growing city government. It was also noted that the proposed concept designs did not include land acquisition for the proposed options.

David Ross, KZF’s director of design, said a space summary was done on city departments that determined that a combined Public Safety Building would not meet the needs of the city. He said questionnaires were completed by city employees, department heads were interviewed and they evaluated existing space.

“We worked with employees and future needs to come up with these options,” he said.

Those options included:

* Building a new administrative building on the former Lemon Monroe High School site and allow the police department to expand by renovating the current administrative building. The site could also include a public amphitheater on that site. He said police felt they needed to remain centrally located in the city. The council chamber would be moved to the new location. Estimated cost: $12.47 million to $14.94 million.

* Building a new police station on the former LMHS site which would allow the other city administration offices expand in the current city building. Estimated cost: $8.86 million to $10.6 million.

* Building a new a new fire station on Ohio 63 between Gateway Boulevard and Union Road. The new fire station would be similar in design to the current fire stations downtown and on Ohio 4. Estimated cost: $5.38 million to $6.13 million.

After the presentation, Councilman Dan Clark noted that the city did not own land on the east side of the city or the former LMHS site. He said they were “interesting concepts. We can talk about it.”

Council felt that more discussion should take place between city staff and KZF. However, Clark said he liked Option 2 to build a new police station as it was “drastically cheaper.”

“The facilities conversation ties into a future safety levy,” Clark said. “If my taxes are going up, I want it to go to police and fire protection.”

Explore MORE: Voters may be asked to OK more money for Monroe police, fire

The city’s police department headquarters was built in 1999 to house 18 police staffers. The building is now home to 40 employees, according to Police Chief Bob Buchanan.

The police department is using one of the building’s two interview rooms as storage space after expanding its dispatch center.

The police headquarters, which are attached to the city building on Main Street, is land locked and parking is scarce, according to Buchanan.

He said there could be cost savings by co-locating at another location, which would free up the current space for other city departments that are also tight on space.

City officials have been analyzing revenue sources to operate its safety departments and are determining whether to seek a tax levy for safety services.

This story contains previous reporting by Staff Writer Denise G. Callahan.

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