Lee’s Summit voters will be asked to approve funding for public safety initiatives through a bond during the Aug. 6 special election.
The $19.5 million no-tax-increase general obligation bond will fund two new fire stations, a ladder truck, network infrastructure, police body cameras, in-car video systems and renovations to the police department.
The bond will help replace fire stations 4 and 5, the city’s two oldest stations, both about 40 years old.
“What was best in the ’80s isn’t what is best in 2019,” said Fire Capt. Gene Martin.
The new stations would cost roughly $12 million and provide the first responders with more space to train, larger work areas that are separate from living quarters and a decontamination area to avoid exposure to carcinogens from fighting fires.
“Things have changed. The fire service has changed,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jim Eden.
“The things we know now have changed, not only for how we respond to calls but also the hazards to firefighters. … When crews come back, they are coming back with dirty gear and they are coming back with dirty equipment and it is cleaned.”
Additionally, the new stations would have separate sleeping quarters and locker rooms for female firefighters.
Expanding the facilities for equal opportunity employment is also an issue for the renovations to the court/police department, said Police Chief Travis Forbes.
“I think security is probably the number one priority for us,” Forbes said. “We are seeing an increase in women who are considering the (law enforcement) profession … and that is wonderful but it is something that maybe wasn’t accounted for when the building was made.”
The renovations to the 20-year-old building would cost approximately $5.5 million. The building does not provide ample space for its female employees’ locker rooms.
Camera systems for police vehicles and body cameras will cost around $1 million. This technology will increase transparency and accuracy for police encounters, as well as provide training materials for future officers, said Police Sgt. Chris Depue.
Around $975,000 of the bond would be used to replace the aging aerial fiber with buried fiber for the city’s network. The fiber would also be replaced and buried at the Water Services Center, Fire Station 2, Harris Park Community Center and at the Longview Community Center.
“We have identified the aerial fiber that we have as being at the end of its useful life,” said Lee’s Summit Chief Technology Officer Steve Marsh. “We have had problems with it in the recent months, strands breaking and becoming brittle due to age. And the fiber itself is aerial, which leaves it exposed to trees and storm damage. This effort would bury that fiber so that we could ensure that storm damage and things like that wouldn’t impact the city to conduct its business.”