Construction of public safety building heads into final stages

Architectural renderings of the new Public Safety Building, which will house the county's Emergency Management and 911 departments, as well as the Coroner's office and the New Milford District Court office. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Susquehanna County Commissioner Elizabeth Arnold reported that the work on the county’s public safety facility in New Milford Twp. “looks great” as she provided an update of the construction progress at the July 28 meeting.

Work at the site is heading into the finishing stages, with the installation of sidewalks, siding, sheetrock and paint. Furniture and equipment is also arriving. Paving of the parking lot is expected to begin next week.

Commissioner Alan Hall said the construction of the facility was a necessity for the county, with the current 911 center and Emergency Operations Center “so far out of compliance” that funding from the state and federal government (PEMA and FEMA) could have been jeopardized.

The commissioners also noted that the county’s communication center took a lightning strike that knocked it out of service. Area fire companies manned local fire stations in case of any emergency situation until 911 was back in service.

At the new public safety facility, fiber cable – instead of copper – is being utilized to decreased the possibility of a service interruptions from lightning. Hall also said that grounding rings have been installed at the site.

The updated 911 system will also have the ability to receive text messages.

The public safety facility, which will house the county’s 911 and emergency management offices, as well as the coroner’s office and the Northern District Court office and courtroom. There is also a PPE storage facility at the site.

The cost of construction was projected to be about $15 million, and – with change orders – is now expected to come in at about $15.5 million.

Hall said there is around another $4 million in furniture and equipment costs.

The county received around $500,000 in state RCAP funding and has applied to receive an additional $3.5 million from the state. Another $2 million has been received from FEMA/PEMA.

At the commissioners’ meeting, several change orders for the project were approved, including $36,192 for a leak detection system in the public safety center, and $7,905 for one in the coroner’s building. The system provide an alert if there are any water leaks in the building.

Two Tax Claim Bureau exoneration requests were approved by the commissioners which included a parcel in New Milford Borough for tax years 2018-2020; and a parcel in Jackson Twp. for tax years 2019-2020.

The commissioners voted to enter a grant agreement with Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for PHARE program funding in the amount of $625,000.


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