Cedar Falls approves new Public Safety Building project - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Falls approves new Public Safety Building project

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

The City of Cedar Falls says its fire and police departments have run out of room in the existing facilities and need to expand.

The city has been working on plans to move the two departments under one roof, by expanding the South Main Fire Station near Greenhill Road.  The expansion would make it nearly five times the current size of the building.

Public Safety Director Jeff Olson says the $10.5 million project will alleviate the cramped quarters his officers work in, and move the main fire operations out of an older firehouse.

The money will come from city savings and a $750,000 grant from the Black Hawk Gaming Association.

City council member Nick Taiber says those factors make the project a must now, not later.

"The price tag is somewhat concerning, However, people are in cubbyholes and walking all over each other. It is functionally deficient, in every sense of the word," said Taiber.

But some, like retired assistant fire chief Bill Bell says, it's the wrong investment.

"Does 11 million dollars of taxpayer money spent on brick and mortar add any degree of additional fire or police protection?" asked Bell.

Bell pointing to the decrease in career firefighters as an area to better spend money.

"We are actually increasing the number of firefighters that this city has," replied Olson. "It is not the traditional sense that they are standing by waiting for calls. But they are cross-trained to be police officers, as well."

One woman said she was concerned, not with the building of the new facility, but the timing of construction and the traffic at South Main Street and Greenhill Road.

The woman said she and others who live near the South Main Station are concerned there will be traffic safety issues, if the project's timeline coincides with the Viking Road construction and the University Avenue updates. The two big traffic projects will likely force drivers to use Greenhill as an alternative.

The engineering department is currently working on short-term solutions to combat an increase in traffic to the area.

According to Director Olson, the new Public Safety Building will not change response times for the department because the current main station will be staffed as a sub-station following the switch.

City council unanimously approved the project with a goal to begin construction in 2018.

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