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Grand Island considers new location for 911 center

Property at the southwest corner of 13th Street and North Road could be the site of a new 911 center in Grand Island (NTV News)

“You can only work so long without a net.”

A city that has been devastated by tornadoes and floods has no backup for its 911 center, located in the basement of City Hall.

After plans to build a new facility came in over budget, the city is trying again.

Grand Island Hall County Emergency Management Director Jon Rosenlund points to a gas leak two years ago, as the kind of thing that could put his office out of business at a critical time.

“If it had been just one block closer, we would have had to evacuate,” Rosenlund said of the construction accident that closed the nearby Hall County Administration Building.

For a decade, Rosenlund has been trying to find a solution.

The city decided to build a new 911 center, and leave the current one as a backup, but it was going to cost a million dollars more than expected.

Rosenlund said, “We put it out to bid, it didn't quite work, and so we had to do some value-engineering because we have a budget to keep.”

Instead of building at Fire Station 1, they’ve moving on to Plan B which is more like Plan K, which would see a new building on the northwest side of town. It would be scaled back, but still offer the benefits of a backup.

“It's also greater distance from other technological hazards, roadways, major railroads, and out of the flood plain,” Rosenlund said.

The city may also move Fire Station 4 which is currently behind Menard’s, next to the new 911 center.

Rosenlund said, “The nice thing is those 2 projects can operate independently and if one doesn't work, the other can and vice versa.”

The location at 13th and North Road is near Westridge Middle School, and would give two locations dispatchers could work from.

Rosenlund said, “We have to ensure that we can deliver quality 911 service because when people dial 911, they expect to be answered.”

Rosenlund says they've cut back on size and features, but says the new building would still get the job done.

“I think it's going to be something the community can be very proud of,” he said.

It goes back to the City Council on Tuesday, to approve engineering work at the new site before it could be put up for bid again.

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