Fresno Plans Major Public Safety Complex

$100M police-fire headquarters would be located downtown

The city also has $2 million in federal funds that can be used to move the Poverello house, but it's not known how much that will cost. City and Poverello officials say they'll likely move the shelter about a mile south into a largely industrial area.

Ruiz says the city could finance a $2.8 million bond for the complex using money from future developer fees and use another $2 million from the city's general fund.

But the city would need to win tens of millions of dollars more in state and federal grants or loans to fund the project.

City administrators also must win approval from the City Council, and at least one member is concerned with plans to build the headquarters project with borrowed money.

Council Member Brian Calhoun said he likes the idea of a public-safety complex near Ventura and G, but added that he won't agree to finance any part of the project until city administrators detail Fresno's total debt.

"I want an update on all our bonding," Calhoun said. "Basically, I've told staff, 'I'm not going to vote on any project until you show me the whole bonding picture.' "

No one disputes that the police and fire departments need bigger buildings.

The Police Department is running out of room at its headquarters in two old buildings on M Street across from Fresno County Superior Court.

Police headquarters is a building constructed in 1959, and the department also uses the neighboring City Hall Annex, built in 1941.

Various policing units that Chief Jerry Dyer wants stationed at headquarters have been forced to move into other buildings around town as the number of police employees grew.

In the last 12 months, the financial crimes, graffiti, gangs and cyber crimes units have all been forced out of headquarters. Previously, internal affairs, the vice and narcotics unit and traffic division were moved out.

When detectives and divisions are scattered throughout the city, "we lose our ability to communicate effectively," Dyer said.

The Fire Department headquarters is being moved from its building on M Street near Highway 41 to make way for the Armenian Town project, which calls for 700,000 square feet of offices and shops and a 1,400-space parking structure on 10 acres.

The Fire Department building will be leveled so a parking garage can be built. The Fire Department will move in October to the Hobbs Parsons building across H Street from Chukchansi Park.

Fire Chief Randy Bruegman said his headquarters will be in the old Hobbs Parsons building for five to seven years. Bruegman added that he looks forward to helping sketch out detailed plans for the new fire and police complex.

"When you have the chance to design something from the ground up, it's an exciting opportunity," he said, "because you get to do it the right way."

The reporter can be reached at or(559) 441-6208.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Fresno Bee, Calif. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.