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New safety center on its way to help public in El Cajon

After several years of planning and designing to fill a need, contractors have broken ground on the El Cajon Public Safety Center.

The $65 million project will be a state-of-the-art new facility for the police and fire departments, and will have administrative and operational space for all divisions.

It will include an operation center, a community meeting room, communication center, indoor firing range, crime laboratory, property processing and storage area, short-term custody area and a central data center.

The public safety center will total five-stories at 119,40 square feet and will have a three level 212,750-square-foot parking garage.

It will be located adjacent to City Hall on a 5.7-acre site at 100 Civic Center Way.

The city purchased the land, where old office buildings stood and demolished them to make way for the new city facility.

The public safety center is being built based on necessity and to centralize police and fire safety crews.

"Right now police offices are scattered around town in three areas," said Nancy Palm, deputy city manager and director of finance, of the buildings built in the 1960s. "We have outgrown these facilities and need to (merge) all of them to better serve our residents."

Two of the three police building are owned by the city and the city is leasing the third one, where the lease ends in September 2011.

"It has not been decided what will happen to the two owned city buildings," Palm said, but added that the building being leased will probably be taken up by the city's Boys and Girls Club for expansion.

The public safety center is being funded by Proposition O -- a half-cent sales tax, which was passed by voter in 2004 to upgrade city offices like the city's animal shelter and fire stations.

"The measure needed a two-third vote to pass and it received about a 68 percent yes vote," Palm said.

Since April 2005, the city has been collected sales tax dollars for the public safety center.

Design and architectural work, which was done by KMA Architecture & Engineering, in collaboration with McClaren, Wilson & Lawrie, Inc., began in September 2007 and took about a year to complete. The environmental impact report was finalized in late 2008.

Construction started on June 23 and is expected to take 24 months to complete, with police and fire crew set to move in by September 2011.

Ledcor Construction Inc. beat out several other general contractors (with a bid of $40 million) in March of this year and will be in charge of building the public safety center.

Gafcon Inc. has been on the project since early 2006 and has been providing construction management duties.

Other contractors hired to work on this project includeBurkett & Wong Engineers, structural and civil engineers; Helix Environmental, environmental engineer; Geocon Inc., soils engineer; Wimmer, Yamada & Caughey, landscape architect; VSA & Associates, acoustical consultant;Brummitt Energy Associates, Title 24 consultant; IT Pathworx, IT consultant; and Rolf Jensen & Associates, fire protection engineer.

To build the public safety center, contractors will use a slab-on-grade construction with CIP columns, walls and decks at the lower two levels, and structural steel with concrete fill on metal decks for the top three levels.

The adjoining parking structure will consist of one below-grade level parking; one at-grade level parking; and one above-grade level parking constructed with a combination of slab-on-grade, CIP walls, columns, structural precast beams and double tees.

Site work will entail earthwork-excavation down one level for the parking structure; lot grading; both dry-and wet-site utility installation; site concrete; AC paving; landscaping; and site furnishings.

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