The city of Lewisville is considering a bond election to fund a joint public safety facility that would house the police department and the fire department’s central administration.
The facility would be constructed at the existing police and central fire stations are located at the northwest intersection of Main Street and N. Valley Parkway. It would provide the city with a long-term solution to overcrowding in its existing buildings and constant maintenance issues for its older facilities.
During a work session Monday the city staff and a design team presented four options for a joint facility. Option A, which the majority of the council appeared to favor, would provide the largest building and would do so up front.
This option calls for a 116,000-square-foot facility, which Chris Squadra, with Peak Program Value design firm, said would meet the needs for the city’s full build out. Broken down this option would provide 85,000 square feet of space for the police department and 31,000 for the fire department.
“We have confidence this would be a really nice upgrade for the people who work there to get them fully functional and provide better service,” Squadra said.
The cost would be $96.7 million, which includes a worst-case scenario of having to move some staff to temporary locations before moving them into the new facility.
The design team also presented Option A1, which ultimately would give the city the same square footage but would defer part of it to a later date.
Initially it would create a 108,300-foot facility with 81,000 square feet for police and 27,300 square feet for fire. Approximately 4,000 square feet for the police portion and 3,700 square feet for the fire portion (two fewer bays) would be deferred, thereby reducing the amount debt needed early on. This option would reduce the cost to $93.8 million initially.
“When these two alternates are built it will still meet the needs that we project you’ll have,” Squadra said.
However, Squadra said it’s likely the cost to build the alternate space later would increase in cost over the years.
Option B included 100,000 square feet (74,000 square feet for police and 26,000 square feet for fire).
Squadra said the full build-out projections would be met for 12 to 15 years. The cost is $89.2 million.
Option C, which the council was quick to dismiss, called for a 92,000-square-foot facility (82,000 square feet for police and 10,000 square feet for fire administration, quarter masters and special vehicles only). It would not include a new fire station.
Squadra said the full build-out projections for police headquarters and fire administration would be met for 15 to 20 years. The cost is $78.7 million.
Council members said it’s important to build the largest version up front to avoid future issues.
“If I’m going to get behind something it’s going to be for full build-out,” Councilwoman Ronni Cade said. “Because the last thing we need is to back and then back and then back. It needs to be done right.”
Cade added the city is putting duct tape on its aging buildings by spending money on temporary repairs.
Others said the new facility would be good for recruitment and retention of police and fire personnel.
“With police recruitment that’s what’s happening with all your neighbors in the Metroplex,” said Don Wertzberger with 720 Design.
City Manager Donna Barron said the city expects it can move forward with this bond project while still keeping the debt rate flat. Officials said that’s possible because of the city’s history of managing debt – increasing principal payments as assessed value increases, taking advantage of refund opportunities and taking a conservative approach to assessed values and interest.
In order for this item to be on the ballot for the Nov. 2 election, the election must be called by Aug. 16.
Squadra said should the bond pass, the design process would begin as early as Nov. 9 with construction set to begin in December of 2022.
Mayor TJ Gilmore said he’s confident voters would approve the item.
“They have supported us on everything we’ve done financially,” Gilmore said. “We deliver every time and on budget. And who’s not going to back the blue and our fire department in Lewisville? It’s not our culture.”