A Fircrest site targeted for the South Sound 911 headquarters has been rejected because of unstable and possibly contaminated soil, sending the agency to restart a property search for the $62 million project.
Pre-purchase testing found that the 9-acre lot for the planned fire and police dispatch headquarters contains fill soil that would cost $3 million to $4 million to stabilize for the two buildings the agency plans, according to a statement Thursday from South Sound 911.
The site at 2119 Mildred St. W. was selected in December as the preferred site.
“While the Fircrest property may be viable for other residential or commercial projects, it is not suitable for the type of structure required for 911 operations,” according to the statement.
Also, the state Department of Ecology could provide contamination test results only for part of the property, so further necessary testing “would significantly delay the project” even if no problems were found, according to the statement.
Rather than moving directly to a chosen second site at 6700 S. Adams St. in Tacoma, the agency is going back out to hunt for other properties.
South Sound 911 Executive Director Andrew Neiditz said Thursday that officials don’t want to lock exclusively into the backup site in case a problem turns up with it. The Adams site, he said, might turn out to have contamination from an earlier use because it is composed of several parcels in a commercial area.
“There hasn't been any objection to further evaluating the Adams site,” Neiditz said, “but I will say there is further interest in broadening the search.”
South Sound 911’s plans call for a 55,000-square-foot building for 911 and dispatch operations and a headquarters for municipal emergency response. It will be built to national structural standards for emergency buildings.
A second building of about 25,000 feet will contain the agency’s administrative offices, technical services and a public counter for fingerprinting and concealed-weapon licenses.
Voters in 2011 approved a 0.1 percent sales tax to fund the project and consolidate operations for Pierce County’s five 911 centers.
Fircrest Mayor David Viafore said Thursday he understood the decision to look elsewhere for a site. He said he hoped another use is found for the property, which has been a vacant industrial yard for years and was considered for a Walmart in the mid-2000s.
“You can’t be disappointed. It’s just a matter of fact,” Viafore said. “If you can’t build something to be earthquake-proof for an emergency building, if it can’t be done, it can’t be done.”