BernCo signs deal for first responder academy »Albuquerque Journal
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Bernalillo County first responders will have a new bespoke training facility by 2023 under a newly approved $ 51.8 million deal with a local developer.
The county commission last week approved a deal with FireEd LLC to build a 40,981 square foot training academy in the South Valley for the sheriff’s office and firefighters. The county will then lease the building for 30 years at a total cost of $ 51.8 million.
This is the county’s first “tailor-made” rental deal, a deal that deal makers said they chose in part to avoid significant upfront costs or potential new debt. The county has already issued more than $ 40 million in bonds to help fund its new downtown administrative headquarters. Paying for the training academy through more bonds would have reduced the county’s borrowing capacity and potentially hampered needed projects in the years to come, said Shirley Ragin, deputy county finance director.
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“I look at my fundraising image as a whole,” Ragin said. “I try to make sure that we have the capacity to do things in the future.
County manager Julie Morgas Baca told last week’s committee meeting that the county will be able to cover FireEd’s annual rental and maintenance payments – which start at $ 1.6 million. dollars – through its normal operating budget. Part will be offset by the savings the county will realize when it moves out of other leased space as part of the consolidation of its head office.
“It has been carefully vetted for two years,” Morgas Baca said of the deal with the training academy. “I want all of you and our audience to be convinced that this was not taken lightly.”
The county will not own the facility at the end of the initial 30-year term, which Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada said he would have liked to see.
“We’re trying to do something quickly because we desperately need (the facility), but ultimately it’s good to own these facilities for the long term,” he said ahead of the committee vote.
Lawyers told the commission that after 30 years, the parties will have the option to extend the lease for five years or consider any other transaction, including a purchase.
The committee approved the deal in a 5-0 vote.
FireEd is owned by Jerry Mosher and Jan Wilson. The project’s development team includes Bradbury Stamm Construction and SMPC Architects, according to county documents.
The training academy – which will be built to meet sustainability standards – will include classrooms, a conference room, offices, separate canteens for firefighters and sheriff’s departments, a gymnasium and a training area. , according to the proposal.
Morgas Baca told the commission that the installation was “late”. The sheriff’s office now trains in a former courthouse in Civic Plaza, and firefighters train in a former fire station. She said none of the training locations were supposed to be permanent.
“They did their best to work in difficult conditions,” she said.
Commission President Charlene Pyskoty said she recalled attending the orientation for new employees in the old courthouse and noticed cadets walking up the stairs of the building and asking them what they were doing.
“They said, ‘We train – this is where we train’ and I said, ‘Are you serious? … I thought: ‘We have to give them a better training center.’
“I think we are all for it.”
Greg Perez, deputy county director for public safety and county fire chief, said the current firefighter training location was ‘substandard’ and too small to simultaneously provide cadet training and continuing education required for veteran firefighters. He said the new facility would provide the necessary space as well as training opportunities directly with sheriff’s deputies – something he says is vital as agencies frequently answer the same calls. Perez said it had been about two years since the departments had organized a joint training and they were using the Cottonwood Mall as a meeting place.
He said the new joint facility was essential and “makes sense”.
“We’ve been working on this thing for probably the last 12 to 15 years,” Perez said. “It really is a big deal.”