CATOOSA, Okla. — The city of Catoosa is hoping to build new facilities for its first responders.
The city is proposing a $20.5 million bond to build a new fire station and police department. The bond is the city's first in 80 years.
Chiefs for both departments said growth from the city is part of the reason for the needed change.
“From a small town, we’re just exploding at the seams it feels like," said Catoosa Fire Chief Denus Benton.
“As a police department, as we’ve grown, we’ve completely run out of room," said Catoosa Police Chief Ronnie Benight. "We’ve got people stacked on top of each other.”
The current police station was built as a grocery store in the 1940s. It then became both city hall and the police station before city hall moved next door. The space is showing its age and is now too small for the department. It's not handicap accessible. A single room serves as the interview space, evidence processing and the break room.
“We have no interview facilities to where if someone comes in, the victim of a crime, they would expect some privacy," said Chief Benight. "And we just don’t have that.”
As for the fire department, its two buildings are newer than the police department but are just as inefficient. Firefighters sleep in a repurposed office building where the main fire engine is kept. But if they need a second truck, they have to run across the street to the second building. Chief Benton also said their current location near train tracks and school zones can slow down their response times.
“You don’t think about that unless you have an emergency," said Chief Benton. "You know, we’re going to somebody’s house on their worst day of their life and those seconds seem like minutes and hours to those people. And so, we try to, seconds count. It makes the big difference.
Plans would also create a 911 dispatch center at the police department. Because the city doesn't currently have one, the police station is not open 24 hours a day.
“If you’re a resident of Catoosa and you have an emergency and you call into 911, you’re talking to somebody in the city of Tulsa who may not be familiar with Catoosa," said Eddie Faulkner, Catoosa Assistant City Manager. "Whereas, moving forward, we would have somebody who is here, you know, could be just down the road from you.”
The new public safety complex would be located in the middle of the city at the northwest corner of 193rd E Pl. and Pine St. The city said it already owns the nine-acre site.
If approved, the bond would increase Catoosa residents' property taxes. To find out more information about that increase click here.
The bond vote takes place April 5.
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