FARGO — The long-awaited project for the new Red River Regional Dispatch Center is moving forward on several fronts, with a possible location in mind and architectural designs underway.
Cass County Administrator Robert Wilson said they hope to “build momentum” on the project that will move the center away from downtown Fargo. The idea has been debated for years.
The center is a partnership between Cass and Clay, Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead counties and is the first 911 operation in the country that crosses state lines.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” Wilson said, including an updated draft joint powers agreement between the five partners, ongoing architectural drawings, a potential location next to Sanford Medical Center and a financial plan.
Former Fargo City District Attorney Erik Johnson provided the draft joint powers agreement two weeks ago based on prior discussions with the five partners, who are reviewing and providing feedback.
St. Paul-based architectural firm SEH, which the county hired for the project, is making progress on potential facility layout and design options, Wilson said.
He said dispatch center manager Mary Phillippi and county commissioners Rick Steen and Mary Scherling met with the company to discuss balancing facility needs while being cost-conscious.
A meeting is scheduled with Sanford about locating the center on part of their property near the hospital at 5225 23rd Ave. S., Wilson said, although other sites are still being investigated.
As for who would own the facility, Wilson said Cass County preferred to pay North Dakota’s portion of the construction costs to avoid double taxation, with Fargo and West Fargo also expected to contribute funds.
It’s also possible that Cass County will pay all construction costs, own the building, and then work with Clay County and Moorhead on cost sharing.
Wilson said it could be similar to how the Regional Juvenile Detention Center works with the Clay County owner of the Moorhead facility with input from local partners.
The five partners also pay for dispatch center operations.
Cass County is the fiscal agent for the project and plans to use federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay for construction.
The current site is said to be overcrowded, and a Federal Emergency Management Agency report from a few years ago raised safety concerns over proximity to train tracks and windows susceptible to damage from extreme weather. .