The Montgomery County Council is moving forward with a new $63.1 million training facility for police and firefighters.
The proposed Public Safety Training Academy would be in Montgomery Village off Snouffer School Road and is part of a three-part plan the county has already started to move some county offices out of the biotech quarter.
The council voted unanimously to move a bill that would start the process of planning and construction for the facility. A public hearing is scheduled for June 25.
The current facility is in the heart of the county's Great Seneca Science Corridor, an area that officials hope to develop as a biotech hub. Director of General Services David Dise said the current training facility is almost 40 years old and outdated. The county could have remodeled the building, which would have cost almost as much as building a new facility, but opted to relocate to give the county more land options for the science corridor.
Dise also said that other county facilities -- such as Montgomery County Public Schools' food service facility -- also will be making the move from the area to Montgomery Village for similar reasons. Once the food service facility is constructed late this summer, the county will be able to move forward with construction of the new training facility.
County spokesman Patrick Lacefield said when County Executive Ike Leggett came into office, one of his goals was to update outdated county facilities and get rid of obsolete ones.
By moving some out of the biotech area, the county will be getting some money it is putting into the new facilities back from selling county land to biotech and science companies, Lacefield said. Dise added that since the costs for renovations would be about the same as the cost for new buildings, it seemed more cost-effective to sell valuable county land to build new on cheaper properties.
Councilman Phil Andrews, D-Gaithersburg/Rockville, said the shape of the current county facility and the growing police force were making it hard for the police, fire and corrections departments to operate under one roof while training. He said the new building will allow for more recruiting classes, as well as better training for members of all three departments.
"It was having difficulty to meet service needs at this point," he said of the building. "The new location was a good locale. It will meet their needs for many decades to come."