Metro Communications hoping to construct new, larger facility

Published: Dec. 6, 2019 at 4:23 PM CST
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It's something we take for granted every day, except when there's an emergency. Metro Communications has been in the Public Safety Building in downtown Sioux Falls for decades, and now they say they need a new facility.

The topic of renovating or constructing a new building for Metro Communications has been discussed for the last two decades.

At the Metro Management Council, Metro Communications director, Scott McMahon revealed their proposed plan.

We spent an hour inside Metro Communications, where they fielded dozens of various calls, both emergency and non-emergency. Last month, they received more than 20,000 calls, which is roughly 850 daily.

The high call volume could be stressful for many people, but for the trained operators at Metro Communications, it's like a routine.

"When you're new, you kind of think about, kind of worst-case scenarios," April Pontrelli, Metro Communications advanced communications operator, said. "Over time once you've taken a few priority calls and it's just, you're training kicks in, and it just is like a regular day, a regular call."

The current facility has more than 4,000 square feet for 53 different employees, which is the largest in South Dakota. The employees are on three different shift schedules, which have nine to ten various workspaces operational at a time.

"We have come to the point at Metro Communications, where we simply need more floor space to be able to do the operations that we do here at Metro Communications," Scott McMahon, Metro Communications director, said.

Mayor Paul TenHaken says that the city is at a point right now where this is a needed discussion.

Since the plans are still in the beginning stages, they are cautious about giving out an exact price tag for a new facility, but estimate it would be between $8 to $10 million.

"We're also looking at what would it cost to remodel this facility, and we determined that it would be best, rather than to remodel this facility, to leave it as a backup center," McMahon said. "So, that we don't have to construct another backup center, that would be maybe used a few times a year."

"Metro is the tip of the spear. I mean, when you call 9-1-1, that's the first thing you do when there's a safety concern," Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, said. "So, if your Metro 9-1-1 capabilities aren't at their peak. It affects all of public safety. So, this is a very passionate issue for me because I see it as an important safety issue for our entire community."

They hope to build the new facility with 15,000 square feet with a new training center, kitchen area, break room, and fitness center for their employees.

If the construction of the new building is passed, they hope to place the new Metro Communications at the Public Training Facility in the northeast corner of Sioux Falls.

They are still in the planning stages and have to discuss financing options, come up with a design, and will hopefully have a plan for a bond issue this spring.

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