Brandstetter Carroll, Inc. and Palmer Engineering revealed the plans for the Clark County Emergency Operations Center in a public meeting at the Clark County Courthouse Tuesday night.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing a $3 million construction budget to build and equip the building, which would all be paid for with FEMA funds, putting none of the financial burden on Clark County or Winchester.
Because of Clark County’s proximity to Madison County and the Blue Grass Army Depot, it is part of the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program. The plan is to create a “robust, fully functional EOC that is well equipped to support communications” in each of the CSEPP counties. FEMA¿is the agency responsible for the program and has provided funds to build the EOC.
The plans as revealed Tuesday include a one-story structure that would face Maryland Avenue and back up near McCann Drive. Part of the building will be constructed to withstand a Category 4 tornado with wind speeds up to 250 MPH. That portion of the building will house the actual EOC and Clark County’s 911 dispatch center.
The rest of the building will have offices for the GIS coordinator, 911 supervisor and emergency management director, among others.
Of the $3 million budget, $1.9 million is designated for construction costs and $1.1 million for
communications, owner equipment and furnishings.
A number of local elected officials expressed concern on the latter portion of the budget, fearing unpredictable costs for equipment and technology as the project progresses.
“There needs an evaluation and detailed discussion with the police department in terms of what we have, what we keep, what we replace and the cost associated with it,” Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said. “It is a concern if we are in August — almost September — and you’re going to bid this project in October and we’re having this discussion tonight.”
A representative from Mission Critical, FEMA’s information and technology contractor, said the project includes the cost of moving the 911 dispatch to the EOC, as well as purchasing new equipment if needed.
The representative, who asked not to be identified, also said the bidding for technology would be as late in the process as possible in an effort to get the latest equipment and cheapest price.
That did little to assuage the fears of local officials. County Commissioner JoEllen Reed and City Commissioner Shannon Cox both expressed a desire for more concrete answers.
“It’s not just a matter of picking up a piece of equipment and unplugging it, carrying it down the road and plugging it into the next place and we can do business,” Burtner said. “That’s not how this works.”
Mark Klaas, the director of Emergency Management for Kentucky, said the project is set for $3 million; should costs exceed that, the project will be altered to come in under budget.
“If the cost becomes prohibitive, you can run (the EOC and 911 dispatch) separate,” he said. “You have the choice of not moving your 911 center.”
“I’m asking the same questions I’ve been asking all along,” Burtner said. “I don’t question the expertise of the people in the room; but I know for a fact, when we moved dispatch from the front the police department to the middle part of the building, I can tell you it was a never-ending struggle on the part of everybody to learn as much as they could to figure out cost and timing and to get answers — just moving dispatch 35 feet. Now we’re going to move it across town.
“All I have at this point are questions.”
Contact Casey Castle at firstname.lastname@example.org.