COPLEY — A preliminary concept for a new municipal safety building to house township police and fire departments pictures a campus-like area that includes the township hall.
Township trustees were told at their Tuesday meeting that it would cost an estimated $14.1 million to build the brick-faced, 39,500-square-foot headquarters at 1540 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road.
David King, president of Horne & King Architects in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, was hired for the design and to oversee the project. In previous discussions, township trustees had discussed a project with a $10 million price tag. The Dublin-based firm received a go-ahead Tuesday from trustees to finish schematic work that is now estimated to be 55 percent complete.
Renderings show a three-story building housing police and fire departments connected to the township hall. Police operations would be housed on the first floor. The space would include quarters for detectives, patrol officers, physical training, an evidence room and storm shelter.
The second floor would be what King described as a fire department "hot zone," space for uniforms and equipment and health issues — such as showers after fires, lockers and laundry. Firefighters' living quarters on the third floor would have private rooms with toilets for every two rooms.
The building would contain education and training space — enough for 48 people — as well as a triage and holding room off the lobby and an elevator spacious enough to accommodate a gurney. Fire trucks would be housed in an adjacent building with six doors. Police would also have three ports for cruisers. Outside, there would be space for parking and basins to collect water runoff.
King said the design would save the township $2.5 million, but that didn't satisfy trustee Scott Dressler. "I'm not comfortable with the cost at this point," he said.
"This to me is a compromise," said township Fire Chief Chris Bower. His department has 18 full-time firefighters. They staff the main station around the clock and also jointly operate the Stoney Hill satellite station with the Bath Fire Department. Response statistics show an 18.2 percent increase in calls over the same time last year, and Bower said the department is on track for a record year.
He described the design as comprehensive; Bower said scaling it back could reduce the new department headquarters' "long-term functionality."
In response to a question from trustee Helen Humphrys, who said she was pleased with the designs, King said the fire department will contain a fire pole.
If trustees decide to go ahead with the project, it would be the township's largest financial undertaking. Financing will be discussed at a May 28 meeting. "It's what the public is willing to pay for and what the board of trustees is willing to ask them to pay for," Dressler said.
Trustees decided against spending an additional $1.4 million to redesign the township hall downstairs as part of the project. They have discussed converting the 6,000-square-foot police department off Sunset Drive into space for public meetings or constructing a building next to Copley Community Park for that purpose.
"I don't see it as a difficult task to reduce the cost of the facility," said Bruce Koellner, board president and a former firefighter. "I don't want to go to the public for any more than needed."