Earlier this month, the City of Lafayette broke ground on their $54 million, 70,000-square-foot Public Safety Building and Parking Garage, located downtown, near City Hall. CORE Planning Strategies is serving as owner’s representative for the project. In celebration of the project’s progress, we talked with City of Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski to hear his perspectives on the facility, what it means for the City of Lafayette, and some little-known facts, too.
Please tell our readers about the City of Lafayette’s Public Safety Building and Parking Garage. What was the catalyst for the project?
The City of Lafayette Police Department has never had their own building, and as our community has grown, the department has outgrown its current location. In addition, changes in technology have impacted law enforcement and public safety. It’s much different than when I started as a police officer in 1983, both in terms of the technology used and the increase in white collar crimes and the need for cyber security. We reached the point where we needed to create something from the ground up that’s more than just a building—it’s a place where community engagement, public outreach, use of smart technology, and best practices in law enforcement and public safety come together.
How will the new facility benefit the department and the community?
The building incorporates all the modern technology today’s public safety requires while being adapting to changing needs well into the future. The new space will expand our community engagement and public outreach, inviting citizens to interact with us at a different level.
The facility’s technology will allow our commanders to view body camera and drone footage live. This gives commanders a better handle on making field decisions, enhances the safety of the public and the officers, and provides them with more information about what is happening and how decisions are made. The police department has had body cams for six or seven years, and we’ve had cameras in cars for 20 years, but increasing the efficiency, transparency, and availability of the footage takes us to an entirely different level for a community our size.
We also expect the technology to reduce administrative time for officers, freeing up their schedules for the work the community is calling on them to do.
In addition, the facility features a 486-space parking garage that will be available to the community. Most of the first floor will be used by the police department for secure parking and investigative areas. The rest of the garage will be available for people coming downtown to work, shop, go out to dinner, and enjoy our arts, cultural, and entertainment opportunities.
How does this project tie into your overall vision for the future of the City of Lafayette?
As a community, we’re interested in economic development, quality of life, and talent attraction. We have a robust parks and recreation department that just finished a new $22 million baseball stadium, and we’re refreshing our amenities and growing our downtown. People want opportunities for art, culture, entertainment, shopping, and recreation, and for people to move to our City and engage in those activities, they need to feel safe. We’re fortunate that residents feel safe in our community, but as technology changes and criminals become more sophisticated, we need to serve at a higher level to maintain that foundation of public safety.
How has your partnership with CORE Planning Strategies enhanced the project process?
Hiring CORE is one of the best decisions that we’ve made. This is the largest project we’ve built under my 18-year administration and probably in the history of Lafayette, in terms of a facility with the City as the sole owner. CORE Planning Strategies has brought a level of expertise that we didn’t have in-house, and because of their experience on large projects, they’ve been invaluable keeping the project on time, on budget, and helping us prioritize so we get what we want within our budgetary guidelines. They brought expertise to the table that we weren’t aware of, and when we’re in meetings, Deb brings up things we hadn’t thought or heard about. We wouldn’t be where we are right now without CORE Planning Strategies. They have been a tremendous partner.
You mentioned being a former police officer. How has that experience shaped how you approach this project?
It has been helpful to understand what law enforcement and public safety deals with day in and day out and how that has evolved. Seeing where we’ve come from and where we’re going helps to understand how we need to plan well into the future. I retired as a captain, and serving in a variety roles over the course of my career gave me a broad overview along with a knowledge of systems and processes that has been beneficial to this experience.
What are some little-known facts about the building?
In our current location, there are no indoor kennels for our K9 unit. The new building will have an indoor, climate-controlled kennels, which is something we’ve never had before.
There will be more than 400 doors in the building.
The building includes a safe room that will allow someone fleeing an unsafe situation to access a secure space with a phone and connect to dispatch.
We also plan to have a solar field on top of the building. I’m excited about the opportunity to have part of our energy needs met by solar power.
What are some little-known facts about you?
I knew for most of my life that I wanted to be a police officer—it was between that or a high school teacher and football coach. Then in 8th or 9th grade, I went to a state police career camp, and even though I’m a huge history buff, I was hooked from that point on.
Special thanks to the project team:
Architect, Civil, and Structural Engineer: American Structurepoint (Blog image rendering)
Police Station Design Expert: Architects Design Group
Landscape Architect: MKSK
MEP Engineer: Applied Engineering
Commissioning: Facility Commissioning Group
Construction Manager as Constructor (CMc): Kettelhut Construction Inc. + FA Wilhelm Construction