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Police request 79 body cameras, $714,000 fire truck, bigger lobby

Woodbury Public Safety wants 79 body cameras, a $714,000 fire truck, and a bigger police department lobby.

On Wednesday, May 18, the Woodbury City Council entertained spending ideas and received requests for funding via the city's capital improvement plan (CIP), which contains five years of construction projects and other capital purchases.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the $158 million CIP on Wednesday, June 8. Projects span 2017-21.

Public Safety Director Lee Vague and Emergency Medical Services Commander J.B. Guiton joined city staff and a large contingent of Woodbury Heritage Society members in explaining to the City Council why their respective proposals ought to be funded.

Equipping public safety

Vague and Guiton made gear, weapons, vehicles, and facilities requests in the interest of public safety.

A fire pumper truck will cost an estimated $714,000 in 2017.

Last year, the fire department reduced its fleet of fire trucks by one, deploying its reserve fire truck more often than in the past. It the right number for the fleet, Vague said, but it becomes imperative that the fire trucks continue to be replaced on time, every 18 years.

Another fire pumper truck is due to be replace in 2020 at a cost of $773,000.

The new pumpers will be red, not yellow.

A $55,100 sports utility vehicle (SUV) fire squad also is requested in 2017. The full-size SUVs, stuffed with equipment, often arrive first to fires.

In 2017, police need a new patrol squad at $61,800, an investigations minivan (not as fully equipped as a squad car but capable of carrying a load of people) at $40,500, and a Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) trailer for equipment at $11,200.

Vehicles are just one of the expensive requests for public safety.

Talks have begun about expanding and redesigning the lobby of the public safety building. Design services would cost about $50,000 in 2017, and Vague suggested a $700,000 construction project in 2018.

The project might involve reconfiguring interview rooms, a property room, an area for fingerprinting, the waiting room, and service windows. Council members nodded as they listened to Vague, seemingly understanding the need for improvement in the lobby.

"It's mixed use," Vague described. "People being fingerprinted for their jobs and people who maybe aren't as happy to be there."

Council Member Paul Rebholz asked for more detail on the expansion and redesign.

"Come in and we'll show you," Guiton invited.

More than $66,000 is slated for new carpet in the public safety building, a portion of which didn't receive a remodel last year. Another project that should be completed in 2017 is the department's moveable storage units, high-density property room shelving that moves on previously installed rails, Vague said.

In 2019, the city has a $3 million placeholder in the CIP for a training center. Vague thanked the City Council for supporting cost of consulting work that starts this year on a joint project with Cottage Grove police.

Woodbury police might add a couple new tools in 2017.

While SWAT already has rifle optics, for the first time long guns will be customized for all officers, Vague said. The department hopes to purchase 65 rifles with sights at a cost of $50,400.

Vague asked for 79 body cameras for the police at a cost of $40,300. New body cameras would synch with the current squad cameras.

While major policy issues still have to be discussed at the City Council level, public safety officials have held internal discussions, are developing proposed policies, and have been preparing for a beefing up of support services to deal with the vast potential for time-consuming public information requests.

Guiton and Vague are hopeful that the Minnesota Legislature solves some issues via state law.

"We have high hopes," Guiton said May 18. "We'll tell you Monday, (May 23)."

There are, however, enough model policies being created by Minnesota cities that the Woodbury City Council can soon hold a workshop about body cameras and enact a solid policy, Vague added. "The community expects that we do this."

Public Safety has a schedule for purchasing replacement equipment, as well.

Seventy-two Tasers are requested at a cost of $110,000.

"We want our officers to have what they need," Vague said of the Tasers, which are often displayed but not used. "It's a deterrent."

When use of force is necessary, a Taser—nonlethal—can be the best choice, Vague said.

For EMS, seven automated external defibrillators are due to be upgraded at a cost of $202,400. AEDs are used to monitor cardiac activity and administer shock when necessary. Guiton said EMS is hoping for a significant technology upgrade on the new machines.

Another tool that needs replacing is the Lucas compressor, which can be used to administer CPR. A $61,200 upgrade from Lucas I, which was purchased by the department 10 years ago, to Lucas III, which comes out soon, will be quieter and offer additional features.

In 2017, firefighters need: two thermal imagers, to see hot spots in fires, at a cost of $15,300; four fit-testing instruments, to make sure masks fit safely, $15,300; and one gear washer, a commercial washing machine for turnout gear, each of the next three years, $13,300.

In 2018, firefighters' self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) are due to be replaced at $415,000.

Preserving history

The Woodbury Heritage Society received some of what it wanted, most importantly some reassurance from the City Council that the historic Miller barn would not be torn down in the next four years. The heritage society has a window of opportunity—recommended by Woodbury Parks and Natural Resources Commission and endorsed via City Council consensus—to get plans together for the future of the barn. Fundraising will take a year, proponents said.

The heritage society will pay $60,000 for roofing and siding on the Miller barn, to prevent its deterioration.

Woodbury purchased the barn and surrounding property for Valley Creek Park, which is slated for master planning in 2019 and development in 2020.

"But it's too far out for commitment," Council Member Julie Ohs said.

No city staff indicated that the barn would be demolished, and Parks and Recreation Director Bob Klatt said that upon purchase the city's vision for the new park originally included preservation of the barn. Its future use is undetermined, although a lot of ideas have been discussed.

"Once it's gone, it's gone," Council Member Amy Scoggins said. "I'm OK with hanging onto it until we figure out what we're going to do with it."

Roger Green, representing Woodbury Community Foundation, suggested that the city seek consultation about how to "make this a special place for Woodbury and the surrounding area."

The barn could serve as something as simple as a picnic shelter or as fully developed as an interpretive site.

"I'm not sure anybody today can make any promises about what it will be," Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said.

Other requests

Among other funding requests:

• $9.5 million for a Public Works building expansion, plus $285,000 for a fuel island and $300,000 for design services;

• $9.3 million for Dale Road reconstruction;

• a placeholder of $6.8 million for an automated water meter readers;

• $974,100 for six replacement vehicles in Public Works, including three new Mack plow trucks;

• $844,600 for trail improvements along Valley Creek and Lake roads in sections where trail extends only on one side of the roadways;

• $714,000 to pave Dale Road and Cottage Grove Drive, some of the city's last gravel roads;

• $649,700 of fleet vehicles and equipment to serve water and sewer systems, including a second truck that televises the condition of city-owned pipes;

• a refrigerated skating rink at a cost of $612,000;

• $357,000 for construction of a new impound lot;

• five mowers at $212,100;

• $163,200 for a phone upgrade for city staff;

• $52,000 for security improvements at Woodbury City Hall;

• $47,400 for dugout covers at baseball and softball fields;

• 27 lights on the Tamarack bridge for $45,900;

• Central Park flooring to the tune of $30,600 for flooring;

• and $26,200 a year for six years, to place park monument signs and "you are here" kiosks at trailheads.

Next step

The City Council asked a lot of questions about the CIP but didn't initiate any changes to the document, which will guide future talks and assist in the financial planning for the next five years of budgets.

Engineering and Public Works Director Klayton Eckles said Woodbury city officials should keep thinking ahead on some projects, like the Public Works building expansion, and keep in mind what is the city's ultimate need for its facilities.

The CIP tells the city where it's headed, Eckles said.

Even after the CIP is approved by the City Council next month, each proposal must return to the City Council for specific approval, Finance Director Tim Johnson said. All expenditures in the CIP remain mere proposals until they are finalized in a city budget.