The San Ramon Police Department and San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District are considering taking the next step in their relationship, and at a special workshop on Tuesday evening, discussed the possibility of moving in together.
To be more precise, San Ramon’s first responders met with the City Council to review a $26.8 million proposal to renovate the police department’s current headquarters on 2401 Crow Canyon Road, so that in addition to police, the facility could house SRVFPD administration, the city's Emergency Operations Center and a joint 911 Communications Center.
At the workshop, City Manager Joe Gorton said that creating a joint public safety building is the next logical step in improving an already high quality relationship San Ramon police and fire services already share.
Gorton, a former police chief in San Ramon, said through the two agencies' current agreement to share the existing 9-1-1 Communications Center on San Ramon Valley Boulevard, “we have not only a better continuity of service but also demonstrated that there are actually people that are walking around in this community alive that would not be so if we had not done that.”
“Having the Police Department, the Fire Administration Building, the Communications Center and the Emergency Operations Center together would enhance general communication between the entities and would certainly enable efficient communication and operations during emergencies,” current SRPD Chief Craig Stevens told the council. “Obviously, this is a huge benefit to the fire and police departments, as well as our community.”
At the workshop, the council members reviewed cost estimates and early designs of the building, and gave their consent for the project planning to continue, with further review and approval set to take place at a future meeting.
Costs would be covered by the SRVFPD through its certificates of participation -- financing secured through lease revenue -- and the current estimated budget includes $7.3 million for fire administrative buildings, $7.2 million for police services, $6.9 million for the EOC and dispatch center, and an additional $5.4 million allocated as a contingency for unforeseen costs.
SRVFPD is an independent government agency, which provides fire protection services throughout the entire San Ramon Valley, including the city of San Ramon, town of Danville and unincorporated communities like Alamo.
The layout of the building is still subject to certain changes, but the concept calls for the design to allow the building last for 50 or more years said Gorton, who added that it will hopefully be completed within 18-22 months, if not sooner.
City Hall may also be getting a makeover from the project, as approximately 35 employees from the city’s permit center -- currently located in the city building shared with SRPD at 2401 Crow Canyon Road -- would move their offices to City Hall in order to accommodate the renovations. In order to accommodate the centralization of services, the layout of City Hall will be reconfigured for an estimated cost of $2.68 million -- which will be paid for by the city.
As to why police and fire would want to relocate their current dispatch center from at Fire Station 31 on San Ramon Valley Boulevard, Gorton explained that in addition to centralizing all emergency services, the new location would feature upgraded technology and infrastructure for dispatchers.
“It creates a state of the art 9-1-1 emergency communications center. (The current center) is an excellent communication center, but it is currently attached to a firehouse in Danville which has been sufficient but is not meant to be a permanent solution,” Gorton said.
Fire Chief Paige Meyer added that the new public safety building would be updated in a way that enables emergency services to more effectively handle disaster situations such as an earthquake.
“Our current communication center, it had capacity and it is still in decent shape, but.. if you have a seismic event, or when not if, we're going to be in a position where we can still put bodies into the street (with the new center),” he said.
Council members were overall in support of the project but did give some direction for staff to consider as the plans are further developed. Councilman Dave Hudson stressed that installing solar panels to produce energy for the site needed to be considered, and council members Phil O’Loane and Sabina Zafar requested that aesthetic improvements also be reviewed.