DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - The City of Dothan moves forward on a project to construct a new operations facility for city departments to use during a severe weather emergency.
The commission voted to approve a design contract with G. Mark Pepe Architect for the amount of $45,590. The company will spend the next six to eight months designing the new structure. It will be located next to the current Dothan Utilities building off Kilgore Drive.
In the past, during a weather emergency city crews would operate out of the Kilgore Drive location, "The biggest thing for us is space. We have a lot of people crammed into a 12 X 18 space during the storm. We have a lot of traffic," said Chris Phillips, Electronic Operations Superintendent.
Not only do you have department heads inside the space, but dispatchers responding to calls and crews reporting in and giving updates on efforts to clear roads and restore power.
Phillips says they also need space to be able to efficiently use their resources, "It would be a little more room and space to utilize some of the technologies the city has allowed us to purchase and to help us more efficiently handle day to day operations. It gives us a much better space to manage large-scale outages or storms." He says having the space to use the technology more efficiently means customers would be able to get their lights turned on faster.
There are structural concerns that don't allow the current facility to be expanded to make room. Phillips says the current building is also not a storm-rated facility, "When we know storms are coming - we're right in the middle of it, riding out the storm. We feel like it's important to have a safe space for our employees, but also have a facility where we can operate more efficiently," said Phillips.
Phillips says the location off Kilgore Drive is also ideal because it's located off Ross Clark Circle, one of the major roadways in the city.
The anticipated cost is 1.2 million dollars. Some of the funding could come from the Alabama Electric Municipal Authority.