CEDAR FALLS — Hundreds of people showed up as the new Public Safety Building was unveiled to the public Monday afternoon.
Tours, burgers and trinkets were offered to those who attended the grand opening, and at least 500 people toured the building throughout the day, including a busload of folks from Western Home.
“This building was built, and we are still one of the lowest-taxed communities,” said Mayor Jim Brown prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony. “We didn’t have to raise taxes to build this building.”
The building came in under it’s $10.2 million estimated budget, Brown said.
Funding came from savings by other departments and gaming grants over the course of about six years.
The fire station at the corner of West 18th Street and Main Street will remain open. The city plans to staff it with two firefighters and a fire truck, Brown said.
“We’ll utilize that until there’s better plans laid out in the future for something as a substation on First Street,” Brown said. Ambulances from MercyOne Medical Center will not be housed at the building, but there is space for ambulances if anything changes.
Public Safety Director Jeff Olson was happy to see the crowd at the opening.
“We’ve been working on this for a number of years,” Olson said. “When you get to that last month, that’s when the excitement really started to hit a lot of people.”
Olson noticed a lot of the firefighters and police officers touring the building.
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The building will officially start housing police and fire services July 8. In the meantime administrative services will start to move in, Olson said.
Five City Council members came for the opening, including First Ward Council member Mark Miller.
“I’m sure glad we’re at this point,” Miller said. “We’ll see all sorts of efficiencies come out of this building.”
Starting at 4 p.m., tours were conducted by public safety employees. Children could climb into some of the fire engines to get an up-close look at the trucks.
A table was set up in the massive public safety garage where people could buy pink Cedar Falls police and fire patches, with the money going toward the Beyond Pink Team.
The building will house 75 public safety employees. Right now 50 are assigned to the police department and 25 to the fire department. There 42 certified public safety officers working in the police department and eight PSOs in the fire department.
The building is the latest step in the city’s effort to integrate its fire and police departments into one Public Safety Department.
Eugene Holmes, whose uncle was once Cedar Falls’ fire chief, was excited to see the building complete.
“It’s great. It’s a wonderful facility,” Holmes said. “They’ve needed it for a long time.”