Mayor Scott Smith knows west Mesa’s Fiesta District has seen better times.
Just less than 20 years ago, it was crowded with retail stores surrounding Fiesta Mall, but now the area noticeably has many empty storefronts — a long-gone Borders Books and Music building and a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant just to name a couple.
But on Tuesday, ground was broken for what will be the first new police substation in more than 10 years in hopes of being a catalyst for revitalization in the area southeast of Alma School Road and Southern Avenue — a 34,000 square-foot, $10.1 million two-story facility on the northwest corner of Grove and Westwood. The new station will be one that the department will be able to grow into on the 4.9-acre property after being in its currently cramped substation at Dobson Road between Baseline and Guadalupe roads.
About 100 people including Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead, his assistant chiefs and Mesa City Council members were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony for the building, which is slated to be completed by the spring of 2013. Dan Withers, president and founder of D.L. Withers Construction, which is constructing the building and architect Vince Di Bella, whose firm Saemisch Di Bella Architects designed it, also were present.
The new station will include a command center of eight monitors to keep track of all the patrol cars in the city, a temporary holding facility for incarcerated suspects, more room for detectives so they don’t have to travel back to the main station downtown to complete work and a community room that can accommodate up to 50 people, said Cmdr. Mark Wesselman.
The location of the new facility, which will be the third LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) constructed building for public safety, also is expected to help improve response times in the area, as the majority of the crimes in the city happen between the U.S. 60 and Broadway, without diminishing response times to the Dobson Ranch neighborhood, Wesselman said.
Although a site search for the new substation and the design work has put its completion about a year behind schedule, Smith said the new station will be worth the wait.
Construction was made possible by a $58.3 million public safety improvement bond passed by Mesa voters in 2008 that also included the construction of four new fire stations, new equipment and communication towers.
“A community stays ahead of decay and blight by investing,” Smith said. “No doubt, the Fiesta District has seen better times, but with this new police station, the elevated level of services are a gift well worth the price. We’re not just investing for now, but for the future.”
Milstead said that the passage of the bond issue in 2008 that made the new station possible, and is evidence that the public has respect and trust for the city’s public safety forces.
So far, the new police station is $1.1 million under budget and will serve 80,000 residents living in the Fiesta District where the city hopes to see more businesses set up shop as the economy improves.
Mesa City Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh, who serves as the city’s Public Safety Committee chairman, said, “This is another step in fulfilling the commitment of the bond issue’s passage. Public safety is a No. 1 priority for the community. The new station will help resolve a lot of issues.”
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