The design phase is now underway for a brand new Visalia emergency communications center. This month, the Visalia City Council approved the $16-million dollar project that will feature space for a 35-hundred square foot 911 dispatch room, an emergency operations center and the fire department's administration offices.
"Probably the biggest priority is space, and we've just run out of space and the design that we have of the current facility for our needs. Visalia is a growing city and with that comes increased demand for public safety and 911 is where it all starts," said Capt. Jason Salazar, Visalia Police Department.
Currently the city of Visalia's 911 dispatchers are in a small room in a basement that's prone to flooding. Salazar said not only do the dispatchers need more room, but the room their in isn't capable of the latest technology. "Technology is going to change and next generation 911. People can texting to 911 or send video to the 911 operator. Those are things that are coming and we need to put the infrastructure in place so we can adapt."
The passing of the project is a long time coming. For roughly a decade city officials have been talking about building a new public safety facility, complete with a 911 center, and both police and fire headquarters. After the economy took a turn for the worst, officials scaled down on plans.
The emergency dispatch center will be the first building constructed in what will eventually be a public safety complex. "This has been a long journey it started with well we've been in our current facility for 44 years now."
Officials hope to have the plans complete by the end of 2014 and be under construction one year from now.