Officials eye space near Sanford Medical Center for new regional dispatch hub
Cass County may pay for the construction with COVID-19 relief funds.
FARGO — The long-awaited new Red River Regional Dispatch Center project is moving ahead on several fronts, with a possible location in mind and architectural drawings underway.
Cass County Administrator Robert Wilson said they were hoping "to get some momentum going" on the project that will move the center away from downtown Fargo. The idea has been discussed for years.
The center is a partnership between Cass and Clay counties, Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead and is the first 911 operation in the nation that crosses state lines.
"There are a lot of moving pieces," Wilson said, including a draft of an updated joint powers agreement between the five partners, architectural drawings in progress, a potential location next to the Sanford Medical Center and a financial plan.
Former Fargo City Attorney Erik Johnson provided the draft of the joint powers agreement two weeks ago based on previous discussions with all five partners, who are reviewing and providing comments.
The St. Paul-based SEH architectural firm, which the county hired for the project, is progressing on potential facility layout and design options, Wilson said.
He said Dispatch Center Director Mary Phillippi and County Commissioners Rick Steen and Mary Scherling met with the firm to talk about balancing facility needs while being cost-conscious.
A meeting is planned with Sanford about locating the center on a piece of their property near the hospital at 5225 23rd Ave. S., Wilson said, although other sites are still being considered.
As for as who would own the facility, Wilson said it was Cass County's preference to pay the North Dakota portion of the construction costs so as to prevent any double taxation, with Fargo and West Fargo also having to contribute funds.
There is also a possibility that Cass County could pay all of the construction costs, own the building and then work with Clay County and Moorhead on cost participation.
Wilson said this could be similar to how the regional detention center for juveniles works with Clay County owning the facility in Moorhead with participation from the local partners.
All five partners currently pay for operations of the dispatch center, too.
Cass County is the fiscal agent on the project and has been considering using federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay for construction.
The current site is said to be overcrowded, and a Federal Emergency Management Agency report from a few years ago raised safety concerns about being near the railroad tracks and having windows that could be damaged in severe weather.