Sheriff plans new 9-1-1 center for $ 9.2 million at Clarksville station
NOVA SCOTIA – A year ago, citing coronavirus concerns and significant savings for taxpayers, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple applied for and received permission to relocate the communications center from County 9-1-1 emergency from its planned location at Shaker Place Nursing Home in Colony to the Sheriff’s Public Safety Building in Clarksville.
Unless the county legislature votes against the project, “we plan to put a shovel in the ground in about 25 [to] 30 days, ”Apple said on August 24.
Apple was speaking to members of the county legislature’s public works committee, who then voted in favor of the facility’s construction costs. The project has yet to be approved by the entire county legislature, which will then meet on September 13.
The project exceeded $ 800,000 “where we thought, but we are still below” the original allocation, the sheriff said, attributing the overruns to the high cost of materials throughout the pandemic.
Apple said another unanticipated cost was $ 200,000 to upgrade the old school’s septic system – initial plans called for hooking up to the existing and dilapidated system, which proved impractical due to the possible increase in the number of personnel who would use the system.
Apple reiterated that its office was falling short of the amount initially allocated to the project, adding that there was a 7% contingency built into the budget. “I have no expectations of coming back here and begging for more money,” Apple told the committee. “I think we can still do it efficiently and on budget. “
Apple said the project will use three funding streams:
– A bond of $ 9.2 million;
– Grants, of which $ 500,000 has been used so far to cover incidental construction costs – which may include items such as architectural, engineering and legal fees, as well as permits, taxes and insurance – and future furniture costs like 9-1-1 console; and
– Budgeted funds.
The sheriff moved into the Clarksville building in 2012.
The county purchased the former Bethlehem District Primary School in November 2018 for $ 325,000 – $ 198,000 in cash and $ 127,000 in in-kind patrol services for schools in Bethlehem for five years. At that time, the sheriff’s office had set aside a $ 2.2 million bond for renovations and a new garage to be built on the 12.2-acre property at 58 Verda Ave.
In September 2020, before the 9-1-1 center moved from Colonie, the county legislature approved $ 3.2 million in renovations to the Clarksville station.
Albany County’s current 3,000-square-foot 9-1-1 center at 449 New Salem Road is in a compound used by the county’s public works department, just down the road from the middle and high school campus from Voorheesville. The 9-1-1 center was built in 1994, Apple said at an August 2020 meeting of the county legislature’s audit and finance committee.
“At this point, we’ve responded for one law enforcement agency, five EMS agencies and six fire departments,” he told committee members last year, and the facility did was supposed to accommodate only three dispatchers, two clerks and a station commander.
The building had not received “any renovations of any kind” for a quarter of a century, Apple said at the time, but it now houses 30 dispatchers, three IT workers, two clerks, a sheriff and a station commander.
The county’s current 9-1-1 service center “was designed to handle 10,000 calls per year – we now handle 12,000 calls per month,” Apple said in August of last year; the center now distributes for six law enforcement agencies, six emergency medical services agencies and 15 fire departments.
“That’s it,” Apple told the county legislature’s public works committee on Aug. 24 of the Clarksville upgrade. His office’s emergency management office, which is run from the old elementary school, and the new 9-1-1 call center, Apple said, will be “a state-of-the-art facility.” .
“Basically it’s a big box,” Apple said of the old elementary school, “with all the technology we need to have possibly the most efficient and technologically advanced 9-1-1. state upon completion. “
Apple said it was “very comfortable with this statement”.
The modernized facility will house 17 all-time dispatchers and 40 call takers, Apple told lawmakers.
The 9-1-1 facility was originally scheduled to be built inside the newly rehabilitated Albany County Nursing Home in Colony, but Apple told the committee the decision to move to Clarksville was a step forward. economy.
Apple said building the 9-1-1 center at the retirement home would have cost from $ 13.5 million to $ 15 or $ 16 million. He attributed the difference in cost to having to install specialized materials to match the new nursing home.
Apple told the committee that it originally believed the move to Clarksville would be too expensive due to technology costs, which have since come down.
The sheriff said in 2020 that a tower should have been erected – a move that could have resulted in legal action from residents of the neighboring neighborhood. But the need for a tower was no longer an issue, the sheriff said last year, because, as part of a multi-million dollar communications systems upgrade, “we put a ring synchronous – a ring of fiber that we call a SONET [synchronous optical networking] ring – countywide.
Apple noted that eventually, most municipalities in Albany County will no longer be able to afford the cost of operating their own 9-1-1 dispatch services.
“And I firmly believe that – and I don’t want to consolidate, take that word out of the vocabulary – I want to share our building,” Apple said. “I want other cities to come and use our building.”
Apple said at the July 2020 audit and finance committee meeting that the Clarksville facility “is always going to be built with the theory that if we build it, they will come,” the idea being that d Other municipalities will want to consolidate their 9-1-1 operations with the county down the road, and “save millions of dollars to all county taxpayers.”
A month later, responding to a question about the likelihood that one of the local towns would decide to give up running its own 9-1-1 centers and join the county, Apple said, “Every municipality is in difficulty, “adding he thought there might be a time in the not-so-distant future when a municipality could” knock on the county door and just say, “We can’t do this anymore. And technically the county is responsible for that when these municipalities do it. “
The consolidation of 9-1-1 services under the Sheriff has been underway for some time. As of 2011, there were 11 separate public safety response points, or PSAPs, in Albany County that handled 9-1-1 calls. Over the next decade, four municipalities consolidated their 9-1-1 services with the county.