If everything goes smoothly, a new countywide 911 call center building could be built in about a year.
That's the message given to Doña Ana County, N.M., commissioners Tuesday by an architect with the firm designing the $6 million building to house the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority.
Contractors next week will submit construction bids for the new facility, said Ron Campbell, architect with Steve Newby Architects.
The county commission will have to select a winning bid for the 18,000-square-foot building, county officials said.
Once a final contract is in place, the contractor will mobilize, Campbell said.
"That would put us pretty close to this time next year," he told the commission, when asked about the timeline for finishing the project.
Doña Ana County commissioners in August picked a location for the structure. The center will be built on a piece of land owned by the county just north of the Doña Ana County Government Center, 845 N. Motel Blvd., in Las Cruces. It's being paid for with revenue from a special bond OK'd by county voters last summer.
The building design factors in a number of security and sustainable-building features, Campbell said.
For instance, there will be vehicle barriers around the building, built into the property's drainage system; bulletproof walls; bulletproof windows; and pass-card entry into the building's non-public areas, according to Campbell. Architects attempted to make the security features with aesthetics for the benefit of the dispatch employees.
"We need to do it in a way that doesn't feel like they're in a bunker," he said.
Emergency dispatch officials have said the existing home for the dispatch center is too small and deteriorating. It also was never designed to handle 911 call center technology and is located in a vulnerable spot, just next to Lohman Avenue near Main Street.
Stucco, stone and fiberglass — which will allow for diffused natural light to enter the building — will be prominent building materials. Campbell said the plans allow for solar panels to be added eventually and xeriscaping is planned.
The structure will be elevated about two feet above the 500-year flood level.
The building won't include as many offices as initially hoped for because of budget constraints, but the planning factors in future growth, architects said. Those spaces have been pushed into a second phase that will be built down the road.
"We've laid this facility out so it can be expanded," Campbell said.
Design architect Richard Haas of Steve Newby Architects said the design team, which included the county, city of Las Cruces and 911 call center officials, was careful in deciding what should be included in the first phase.
The group looked at "what do we need now to operate efficiently and safely, and what can we defer to Phase 2," he said. "They were trying to be very judicious with the taxpayers' money."
The first phase should meet the needs of the county for the next 10 to 15 years, based on the expected growth rate, Haas said. Phase 2 would add about 7,500 more square feet, he said.
Contractors' bids are due by 2 p.m. April 3 to the county.
The architects' presentation was made in a county commission meeting Tuesday, March 25 at the Doña Ana County Government Center, 845 N. Motel Blvd., Las Cruces.
©2014 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)