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New, bigger digs for 911 call center

– The Fort Wayne-Allen County 911 call center will soon move from the basement of the Rousseau Centre to the sixth floor, barring any cost-prohibitive renovation costs.

Members of the Consolidated Communications Partnership board, which oversees the call center, approved the move Tuesday.

The city and county are poised to replace and install the public safety communications system at a cost of about $17 million, with the system set to launch next fall.

The call center is now in the basement of the Rousseau Centre, but there is inadequate space to accommodate the setup and operation of the new equipment, said Mike Richard, supervisor of the partnership’s radio shop. That new equipment is expected to start arriving from Motorola after the first of the year, he said.

The basement space is 5,700 square feet, while the sixth floor would offer more than 12,000 square feet.

Reichard submitted detailed design plans for the project that are contingent on the center moving to the sixth floor, he said.

The board had considered several other site proposals for relocating the emergency call center, but liked the idea of staying within the county-owned Rousseau Centre, formerly the City-County Building, where city and county police as well as the city fire department are located.

The move is subject to final approval from the county commissioners.

Board attorney John Feighner cautioned that the Consolidated Communications Partnership has no money budgeted for renovations, should it run into any problems on the sixth floor.

“We know it can’t stay where it is,” board member and Allen County Chief Deputy Dave Gladieux said. “This is the least expensive option.”

Last year the county considered using the eighth floor for the call center but decided it would be too costly to renovate, because of asbestos abatement.

The rooms on the sixth floor are high enough that construction crews will not have to get into the ceilings, so expensive and problematic asbestos removal is not expected to be an issue.

The board does not anticipate running into any additional expenses during the move, said Rusty York, Fort Wayne police chief and a member of the board.

The center will eventually occupy the entire sixth floor, York said.

The floor now houses Fort Wayne’s Victim Assistance and the Metropolitan Human Relations Commission, and there is an office for Tony Burrus, director of the Allen County Solid Waste District.

Much of the call center could be moved immediately to a portion of the floor where there is vacant space, York said.

Burrus is already planning to move and Victim Assistance would likely be immediately moved to the fifth floor, York said.

The Metropolitan Human Relations Commission would not have to be moved until the 911 call center was completed, set for fall 2013, York said.

2% pay raises pass

The Consolidated Communications Partnership board agreed to give call center employees 2 percent raises next year.

The money will come from a year-end surplus of about $146,000, said Tim Lee, executive director of the partnership.

The raise for about 80 employees will amount to about $90,000, Lee said.

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