Tavares to build new $6 million public safety facility

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - The city of Tavares has launched another multimillion dollar project.

Officials want to build a new public safety headquarters along Old Highway 441. But unlike some other expensive city projects, this one will not be put to a city-wide vote.

WFTV's Berndt Petersen learned the buildings on the lot will be demolished within 10 days.

The old Tavares train station has stood for 100 years. For the last 40 years it has housed the city's fire department.

"It has outlived its usefulness as a fire station. It's just too small," said Tavares Fire Chief Richard Keith.

But the city has big plans to replace it.

The buildings on the three-acre city lot are being cut to pieces to make way for a new $6 million public safety facility.

It will make way for a combination fire department, police department and emergency operations center.

"I think we're going to save some money by combining the services together under one roof," said city administrator John Drury.

Drury hopes to collect at least half the money through federal grants and borrow the rest. While voters approved other multimillion dollar projects connected to the new seaplane base, they will not vote on this one.

Drury said residents who took part in special meetings to chart a course for the city's future approved of the new facility. And even though Lake County is building a brand-new emergency operations center right across the street, Drury said smaller scale city emergencies would be handled by the city's EOC.

"That's really not a Lake County EOC activate the whole center kind of operation. That's a city of Tavares. You have a problem on your hands? Go take care of it," said Drury.

The city already has a half million dollar grant to pay for preliminary designs. Once they're drawn up, officials will arrange the rest of the financing.