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Renderings unveiled for new dispatch center amid concerns over high fees, 'needless' expenditures

Designs for the new Red River Regional Dispatch Center were presented to the Cass County Commission during their meeting on Nov. 21 by consultants Architects Design Group (ADG) and Short Elliott

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Preliminary rendering of the new Red River Regional Dispatch Center facility
Submitted photo
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FARGO — Designs for the new Red River Regional Dispatch Center were presented to the Cass County Commission during their meeting on Monday, Nov. 21.

Commissioner Chad Peterson voiced concern over high fees and "needless" expenditures from project consultants Architects Design Group (ADG) and Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. (SEH), which presented the renderings on Monday.

The project will cost approximately $13 million for development, which includes construction, site development and other soft costs that help get the facility move-in-ready, according to the design report.

“The cost is inflating here rather remarkably,” Peterson said “It sure seems like you have a lot of redundancy in this plan that would easily be eliminated," noting sleeping rooms for staff as an example.

Professional services such as survey, environmental, Geotech, technology, security and communications from the consultant is all included in the budget line for the design services, totaling $866,000.

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“If it’s a 10.5% fee then we need to find another designer,” Peterson said.

Brian Bergstrom, project manager with SEH, said the fee was by no means a “take it or leave it number,” adding that SEH is open to discussing that cost with the county to explain what that fee gets them and to work to “get to the right fee that works for everybody.”

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Preliminary rendering of the Red River Regional Dispatch Center.
Submitted photo

The new facility will replace the current Red River Regional Dispatch Center that serves Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Cass County and Clay County, which according to local officials has become crowded and faces safety concerns.

In addition to capacity issues, the current facility is not "hardened" to handle natural disasters, according to Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner.

A new facility will be designed to operate off-the-grid for at least 72 hours should anything happen that affects their operating systems, including HVAC, water and power, according to consultants.

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Master plan for the lot.
Submitted photo

Peterson said the secure parking area, which is included in the design plan, is "needless expenditure." The parking area is not a design feature provided to other government buildings in the area, many of which, like the police department, experience more face-to-face interactions with the public, Peterson pointed out.

The secure site perimeter, however, is “critical to the functioning of the project” according to the design report. The site will also include an anti-climb galvanized steel security fence with visually screened dual sliding gates at the entrances to the secured parking areas, the design report said.

The fenced parking lot is being proposed for staff safety and also as a way to protect the infrastructure that will allow the facility to operate for a minimum of 72 hours if there's any sort of outage.

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Although no consultants responded Monday to Peterson regarding the secured area, Commissioner Rick Steen said consultants have been very responsive to changes as the project unfolds.

The design, called “extremely functional and efficient” by ADG’s report, includes a 15,000-square-foot facility on a two-and-a-half acre site in Fargo, located just east of the Sanford Medical building on Agassiz Crossing South, neighboring the Ronald McDonald House.

Bergstrom noted that while several other sites were considered, this one won out due to its location and cost.

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Building usage breakdown of the new Red River Regional Dispatch Center.
Submitted photo

“There have been a lot of stops and starts,” Bergstrom said of the project’s timeline, but added the project will go out to bid midsummer.

More detailed designs will be released at a later date that identify the exact size, details and capacity of the new building.

Steen said Monday he wants each entity, Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Cass County and Clay County, to decide soon on who they will assign as their representative for the dispatch center in order to meet ahead of time and facilitate the process to smoothly open the new center.

Peterson noted last year that the level of cooperation between counties and cities across state lines like in Fargo-Moorhead is "unheard of" nationally.

The renewed agreement between the entities goes into affect on Jan. 1, according to County Administrator Robert Wilson.

Related Topics: FARGORED RIVER VALLEY
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