SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Today, Mayor Ralph Becker recommended the City Council place an initiative on the November 2009 ballot authorizing a $125 million bond for the acquisition, construction and equipping of a Public Safety Building and Emergency Operations Center.
“Salt Lake City has a critical and urgent need for an Emergency Operations Center and a new Public Safety Building. As leaders in Salt Lake City, I believe we have a moral obligation to keep our community safe and to be prepared in advance of a catastrophic emergency,” explained Becker.
The City’s existing Public Safety Building is an aging, overcrowded facility with more than 500 employees occupying space intended for 300 employees, and is not rated as functionally survivable should the City experience a major disaster, such as a large earthquake. The City currently does not have an Emergency Operations Center.
The recommendation put forth today reflects a significantly streamlined proposal from the $192 million public safety bond narrowly rejected by voters in 2007. “We have looked for every efficiency we could find and will continue to do so throughout the course of this project,” added Becker who expressed strong support for the possibility of partnering with the State of Utah on the Emergency Operations Center, an idea currently under evaluation.
A report written by renowned local architect David H. Hart, FAIA, Architect of the State Capitol, who reviewed all of the public input and data on 10 different location options, recommended the Council focus on the area known as the Barnes Bank block (Block 35/Plat B) as the preferred location for the facilities. The Mayor upheld Hart’s recommendation in his transmittal to the City Council.
In the report, Hart stated, “After thorough consideration of numerous options for the location of the Public Safety Complex, it is my recommendation the preferred site to be considered is Block 35 Plat B. Among the sites that were reviewed, this location meets the site criteria, provides the best combination of advantages, fewest disadvantages, and continues the development of the Civic Campus. The City will need to complete further work to define which portion of the block best meets the overall needs and desires of Public Safety officials and the community.”
In response to today’s announcement, Former City Council Member Deeda Seed remarked, “Salt Lake City has an urgent need for a new Public Safety Building. We’ve known for years about serious deficiencies in the current building; deficiencies that make us less safe as a community. We truly cannot afford to wait any longer to address this problem, thus I support Mayor Becker’s recommendation to locate the new Public Safety Building complex on the Barnes Bank block. I am confident the Mayor and his planning team will work with the community to ensure the project is carried out in a cost-effective manner, with an emphasis on mixed-use compatibility.”
The City Council will review the proposal over the next two weeks before making a final decision.