Police and firefighters disagree on proposed project - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Police and firefighters disagree on proposed project

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

A multi-million dollar project is in the works to change the face of public safety in one Cedar Valley community.

Cedar Falls leaders are working to finalize plans for a new public safety building on the site of the current South Fire Station, near Greenhill and South Main Street.

The proposed project will have firefighters, police, and other city leaders under one roof, but right now they're divided on the proposed project.

There are two fire stations in Cedar Falls on Main Street.

Community leaders say they're working to expand the one near Main Street and Bluebell to a house a public safety building for everyone in one spot.

However, Cedar Falls Firefighter Association President, Jim Cook, says he's not sure it's the best solution.

"No one wants to spend $11 million on a project, and not know whether this is the right and proper location for a fire station," Cook said.

Cedar Falls Public Safety Director Jeff Olson reminds people, the project won't increase taxes, and they'll be able to cross-train public safety officers to work both as firefighters and police officers.

"It's a very cost-effective way to provide public safety. Instead of paying people to standby while waiting for the fire call, which are fewer and fewer, we're able to take that individual and still have them respond to fires. However, we're having them doing other jobs while they're waiting for those fires to occur. In Cedar Falls, we just don't have a lot of fires," Chief Olson said.

The city has researched response times when it comes to existing fire stations, and Jim Cook says that study doesn't indicate whether this expansion or this proposed multi-million dollar project will improve those times.

Cook says a lot more needs to be done to move forward with this project on Main Street.

"Currently, there will be no difference in response times at all. You already have a fire station that's located on that site. That's one of our concerns," Cook said.

Meantime, Chief Olson said they've studied more than 130 communities around the nation, and they're reporting success with the new design.

"This is the model of the future of policing, and we're certainly not the first," Chief Olson said.

A planning and zoning meeting was held Wednesday to discuss moving the project forward.

The proposed project will be nearly five times the size of the existing project on South Main Street.

To review the project's progress, you can click here.

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