Lake County picks government center for consolidated dispatch
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent November 29, 2012 9:57AM
Updated: January 1, 2013 6:23AM
Lake County Public Safety Commission selected the Lake County Government Center as the primary site for the consolidated emergency dispatch center over a building in East Chicago.
Members voted 9-6 with one abstention on Thursday to locate the center at the county’s hub in Crown Point. The commission chose East Chicago as the secondary “dark” site by the same margin. Representatives from three north Lake County cities — Gary, Lake Station and New Chicago — were absent. Griffith’s representative was present but is a nonvoting member.
East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland attended the meeting where the city’s representative on the panel, Herbert Cruz, Emergency Management Agency director, made an impassioned plea before the commission to stick with the facility subcommittee’s recommendation and select the East Chicago site — the second floor of the former Blaw-Knox Co. administration building in the 4400 block of Railroad Avenue.
“The subcommittee was created for a reason,” Cruz said. He touted the advantages of the East Chicago site and said officials had the chance to review other sites during the process and East Chicago came out on top.
Following the vote Cruz thanked the panel. He said he would have liked to have seen the agenda reflect that a vote on the site was going to be called. With only a few members missing and a few votes separating the two, the outcome may have been different if everyone was in attendance.
“(Had they known) They may have made a better effort to get here,” Cruz said.
Copeland also was not pleased with the course of events.
“I’ve looked at the whole process and tried to be honorable. I only know how to play the game one way. I am saddened in the process,” he said.
However, Copeland restated his commitment to public safety and the consolidation process and offered the East Chicago site rent-free.
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, who first floated the idea of using the county government building for the center, said the county is under tremendous financial pressure and must find ways to save money wherever possible.
Using the county building as the call center site will save about $700,000 over the East Chicago site but he expects the final savings to be higher. Scheub said he plans to go over the estimate which includes some contingencies and increases for construction costs and inflation he does not agree with.
“I’m not satisfied with the final figures,” Scheub said.