New home for county’s 911 dispatchers soon to open

(Photo provided by Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

It’s been five years in the making, but Cortland County’s new 911 call center is close to being the dispatchers’ upgraded base of operations.

The near-completely renovated building on 22 W. Court St. in the city of Cortland will soon be home for the county’s 911 dispatchers. For some time, the county’s 911 dispatch center has been housed in the public safety building on Greenbush Street.

According to county legislator Beau Harbin (D-LD-2), the main construction phase of the 911 center is complete and staff is anticipated to move into the building sometime this year. 

“We are taking the time needed to make sure everything is ready before we move in,” Harbin said. “Lots of work has been done on the building and property from top to bottom. Outside we did a lot of work in shoring up the hill side, paving the parking lot, adding in a fence and lighting as well as making improvements to the building. We have also made a lot of improvements to the interior of the building, such as adding generators and redundant high-speed internet access.”

Scott Roman, the county’s director of emergency response and communications, and the center’s 911 dispatchers are currently housed at the public safety building on Greenbush Street.

Once the new 911 center is up and running, the county sheriff’s office plans to make use of the space at the public safety building, Harbin said.

“Now we are on to the fit and finish sort of work to prepare for the staff to move into the space,” Harbin said.

The total projected cost of the renovation project was $1.4 million, but exact figures on the total cost have yet to be determined, Harbin said. When work on the 911 center started in 2019, the cost was $1 million.

The county, however, has been able to cover costs with a $1.5 million state grant and aid from a $5 million grant. More importantly, Harbin noted, costs for the project have not been covered by the county’s taxpayers.

“This is a great part of the project that I have to commend Director Roman for handling so well,” Harbin said. “Getting the county a state-of-the-art 911 center without burdening local taxpayers to achieve this outcome.”

Harbin mentioned that the new 911 center will be “hugely beneficial” to the entire community.

“We will have a new 911 center that will be even better connected into neighboring counties to provide better coverage for our region,” Harbin said. “We will provide a better facility for our dedicated emergency dispatchers to handle the phone calls. For our neighborhood, we will now have a great use for this building (on West Court Street) that will no longer be an eye-sore or a potentially dark and dangerous place. This will be a great addition to our community.”