By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Now that city land is no longer being used for temporary housing for those displaced by the 2011 tornado, work toward construction of a permanent public safety training center will begin.
The training center was one of the projects tied to voter passage of a half-cent public safety sales tax in 2006. Construction was delayed by the tornado.
Police Chief Lane Roberts and fire Chief Mitch Randles have received City Council approval to go forward with buying equipment that can be used in a temporary training center that is being set up in the old terminal of the Joplin Regional Airport.
“The training center will occupy the north and south wings,” Roberts said. “We will have about 5,000 square feet that will be utilized there, with about half of that in classrooms and the other half administrative offices, a break room and conference room.”
The permanent center is to be built on the south end of city property on Missouri Highway 171, across from the general aviation entrance to the airport. It is where the Hope Haven mobile home park for tornado victims was installed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The last of the residents moved from that park last month.
“We’ve created a map where the temporary housing units were where we are trying to do the layout for the training center, including the classroom building and the outdoor training props,” Randles said.
In the meantime, “Using the terminal is allowing us to open our doors much sooner than if we had to start from scratch,” Roberts said. “That gives a chance to get a good start. All of the furnishings and equipment will go with us when we move to the new (permanent) facility. We are just getting ourselves started so we don’t wait another year and a half or two years” for the permanent site to be built.
The project has been divided into two phases.
In the first phase, classes will be opened in the old terminal once the furnishings and equipment are ready. Preparation of the permanent site will begin and some of the training center’s features will be erected, such as security fencing, a training tower, a burn pad and driving pad for teaching and practicing rescue and firefighting techniques, the chiefs said.
It will include hiring a firm to design the permanent building and taking bids on construction. The City Council authorized up to $2.5 million for that phase.
The second phase will be construction of the permanent classroom building, along with SWAT and K-9 training areas. That could cost up to $3.5 million, the chiefs said.
Randles said that while the total cost could be about $6 million, “We don’t know the exact cost because it hasn’t been bid.” The original estimate in 2006 was $5 million.
THE CITY HAS ALLOCATED $40,000 to pay for operations of the temporary training center.