911

Operators work the phones inside the Maricopa Police Department 911 dispatch center.

MARICOPA — The city of Maricopa has decided to discontinue consideration of outsourcing dispatch services following the city of Chandler’s decision to halt a partnered study of the center.

Instead, the city announced the creation of a new, approximately 20,000-square-foot dispatch center, along with the sale of a 4-acre plot adjacent to the center for a new emergency hospital.

The efficacy study of the Maricopa Emergency Communications Center began in January and was in part due to a considered partnership between the city of Chandler and Maricopa that would outsource 911 dispatch services to Chandler.

In a presentation by City Manager Rick Horst, he announced that Chandler recently advised the city it would pause the study with Maricopa. The city cited the recent retirement of Chandler’s city manager and recruitment process, recent other events in the city of Chandler and, according to Horst, “misinformation circulated via multiple sources as propagated by parties with self-serving agendas.”

This is the first agendized presentation given at a Maricopa council meeting on the ongoing study of the dispatch center. Prior to this, both the Maricopa Fraternal Order of Police and the City of Maricopa Police Association voiced their disapproval of an outsourcing for 911 services.

A response letter from Horst published May 18 discussed the city’s reasoning for the study and said, “At the conclusion of our study, the findings will be released and we, collectively, under the direction of the mayor and City Council, can determine that which will best serve our community.”

Last Tuesday, Horst announced the determination.

“Both parties have determined to no longer pursue the Chandler study,” said Horst. “Other study elements will continue. These segments include the potential for shared services, state of the art technology upgrades, increased effectiveness and efficiency and reduced cost, while ensuring the overall safety of our first responders and the general public.”

The study also still involves reaching out to other jurisdictions, some of whom Horst said were expressing interest. Horst also stated that city officials and himself met with representatives for both police unions to discuss these matters after the publication of their letters.

With the cessation of the partnered study, the city has announced a repurposing of the ECC and its land on Greyhorn Drive and Bowlin Road. The dispatch center will receive around an 8,000-square-foot upgrade from its current building, the 12,500-square-foot Copper Sky Police Substation completed in 2015. That building houses the communication center, evidence processing and a community area.

In the same night, the city approved the 4-acre land sale of the property across Greyhorn Drive to the west. A new 100,000- to 250,000-square-foot medical campus with a specialty emergency room hospital is scheduled to be built there, which would house a surgery center, catheterization lab and medical offices. The hospital would also provide ambulatory surgery and services, enabling emergency patients to stay in the city for medical help.

“It will provide for public safety,” Horst said. “Now we can treat people here, we don’t have to transport them long distances. Now our fire crews don’t have to go into Chandler and Casa Grande with paramedic runs and take an entire crew out of service.”

The hospital will have anywhere between 25 and 120 beds, according to Horst’s presentation, and has now been put into the planning and zoning stage of development.

“Ultimately a new state-of-the-art emergency communications dispatch center will be built without debt and without any tax increase,” Horst said. “In return, we will bring enhanced medical services to our community, great jobs and bolster the local economy, which in return will add to the quality of life enhancements for our community.”

Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown will head the new dispatch center at Copper Sky. Much of the details and construction timeline for the center was kept under wraps on Tuesday, but Horst told the council, “I suspect that we’re going to have other proposals to discuss with you in the future.”

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Katie Sawyer covers Maricopa and the surrounding area for PinalCentral, including city, education, business, crime and more. She can be reached at ksawyer@pinalcentral.com.