By Jeff Gallatin
North Olmsted Mayor Kevin Kennedy wants to take a businesslike look at whether a joint safety-services dispatch center would work for several area communities.
Kennedy and Olmsted Township officials sent out a letter in mid-May to mayors and city council clerks in Bay Village, Berea, Brook Park, Fairview Park, Lakewood, Olmsted Falls, Rocky River and Westlake asking those communities who would be in favor of conducting a complete business case study to indicate their willingness to work together to seek county or state funds for such a study.
Kennedy said it’s worth taking a look to see if a joint regional center would be viable for different communities in the area.
“If it’s something where we and some of the other communities can save money and be more efficient by working together, then it’s something that is worth pursuing,” he said.
Kennedy noted that Cuyahoga County is moving forward with implementation of its regional 911 call centers.
“We believe there is a good opportunity for different cities to collaborate and save some money while expanding and improving services, at a reduced cost of operations when dispatching all our safety forces – including police, fire and EMS squads,” he said.
North Olmsted safety/service Director Scott Thomas, who has helped put the proposal together, said there’s a better chance of obtaining funds if the groups work together.
“We’ll do better by working together as a group in terms of getting funding and other support,” he said. “The groups in charge of the funding and support mechanisms are more able to assist us if there are larger numbers of people and communities seeking this service.”
Thomas said the different communities could expand and improve their services because of the additional support it could obtain as a regional entity.
“That’s why we want to take a good look at it,” he said. “We want to see which communities this would be best for. It may not be best for everyone, which we understand. A study would help us all determine that.”
Thomas said if funding is obtained, the study will define every community’s role and help arrange the people and tools needed to form the group. He said the study would also help assess and define the actual costs in putting it together.
He said where such a center would be located would likely be determined by information obtained via the study. He acknowledged that North Olmsted has plans for expanding its current dispatch center in the police station.
“If a study or others think we’re the best location, that’s great; if not, that’s fine, too,” he said. “That’s why we want a study to help define what is the best course of action.”
Kennedy, who recently formed a mayor’s court for North Olmsted and took much of the city’s traffic offenses away from Rocky River Municipal Court, and also elected to not have the city participate further in possibly taking part in a regional fire district, noted that other communities might be surprised that he is proposing a joint regional dispatch facility.
“I understand that, but this is going to be a businesslike look at what’s good for North Olmsted and whatever other communities choose to participate,” he said. “It may be better for some communities than others, but that’s why we want to take a good look at it.”
Kennedy said he would like to move forward this year as soon as he has a sense of which other communities are interested.