Last summer, Fairfax County unveiled some sleek designs for a new $149 million police and fire headquarters building, to replace the crumbling Massey Building on Chain Bridge Road. The plan was for building to start on a county-owned softball field near the government center in 2013, with completion by 2015. A new countywide data center ($13 million) and the much awaited demolition of the Massey Building itself ($14.4 million) ran the total cost to more than $176 million.
But last month, when the list of projects was released for a county bond referendum this fall, there was no public safety headquarters to be found. And the way Fairfax schedules these bond referendums, the next public vote would be in 2014, and that’s already slotted for Tysons Corner transportation needs. Public safety is scheduled again in 2016. That would be a long time for Fairfax’s top police and fire officials and investigators to stay in a 45-year-old building that has “roof deficiencies causing continuous leaks; obsolete fire alarm systems and no sprinkler system...overloaded electrical systems with no spare capacity for new equipment and constant tripping of breakers,” according to a county report. Don’t forget the asbestos inside and the falling concrete outside, too.
Fairfax has a plan, but it likely won’t break ground on a new police-fire headquarters until 2014 rather than 2013, Deputy County Executive Rob Stalzer said Monday. Instead of using a general obligation bond approved by public vote, the county plans to use an Economic Development Authority revenue bond, which the county can issue at any time (after a public approval process), and which must still be repaid from the county’s general fund, Stalzer said. The county hopes to get that money early next year, Stalzer said.
The project also underwent some “value engineering,” Stalzer said. Now the countywide data center is out of the project, and so is the planned implosion of the 12-story Massey Building. But plans for the new police-fire headquarters are due to be submitted to the planning commission this summer, Stalzer said, with hopes for bonding in 2013, building beginning in 2014 and completion in 2016.
That means at least four more years inside the leaky, electrically failing, asbestos-riddled building for Fairfax’s public safety leaders and major crimes detectives. Here’s hoping they all survive to make it to the new building.