County approves contract for $27.8 million new EOC
The Monroe County Commission has approved a contract with a construction company to build a new $27.8 million emergency operations center in Marathon.
Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2022 and be completed by June 2023, County Administrator Roman Gastesi said. The county has secured all but $1.9 million of the $27.8 million from the state and federal government, but Gastesi was given an assurance Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie that state and federal grants would cover the $1.9 million, Gastesi said Wednesday.
The project, which will be built by the Ajax Building Company, consists of a 25,799-square-foot, elevated concrete structure with a double roof system designed to Federal Emergency Management Agency standards on the southwest corner of the Marathon Airport and all related sitework, according to the proposal. The facility will house the Monroe County Emergency Operations Center, Sheriff’s Office Call Center and Dispatch and Fire Administration.
These spaces are served by redundant utility systems for potable water, wastewater and emergency power. State-of-the-art audio-visual technology and access control systems are being implemented, including video walls and biometric screening.
The County Commission approved the contract at its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
County Commissioner Craig Cates called the project too big and “overbuilt.” Commissioner David Rice had “sticker shock” initially, but accepted the size and price tag given its importance, he said.
Commissioner Holly Raschein said she was excited about moving forward with the project.
County Mayor Michelle Coldiron supported the project, given how inadequate the county’s current emergency operation center is and the facilities the county was working out of during Hurricane Irma, she said.
The Monroe County Commission first began discussing a new emergency operations center in 2009, but the topic took on greater urgency during the 2017 hurricane season, when a report from the state Division of Emergency Management found that Monroe County’s Emergency Operations Center was inadequate because it was not safe in a hurricane stronger than Category 2.
Weeks after the report was issued, the county had to move its emergency operations center personnel north from the top floor of its Marathon Government Center to the Ocean Reef Club the day before Category 4 Hurricane Irma made landfall.