New safety communications center opens

The expanded George T. Owens Operations Center opened Tuesday with state-of-the art communications equipment, more space for the 911 call center, and training for the county?s police and fire departments.

The new facility will make communication easier between Prince William County residents and the police and fire departments housed there, and will allow better service to residents, said county board of supervisors chairman Sean Connaughton.

Police Chief Charlie T. Deane and Fire Department Chief Mary Beth Michos thanked the Board of County Supervisors for their support of the $5.3 million project.

The expansion more than doubled the space of the original building, located adjacent to the McCoart Administration Center on the Prince William Parkway.

The original 10,000 square-foot Owens center was built in 1986. The expansion was built in less than a year and brought the total size to 13,000 square feet.

While Tuesday marked the official opening of the expanded facility, the 911 call center has been operating out of the enlarged space since April 27, technical manager John Maddox said.

A new 800 MHz radio dispatch system will soon be fully operational in the expanded center.

The radio system is currently in operation along side the county?s former 911 dispatch system. It is likely to be ready for full use sometime this summer, Maddox said.

The newly vacated area of the center will be renovated to house an expanded and upgraded emergency operations center.

Construction on that project is expected to start in July and end by October with the goal of moving into the upgraded and expanded facility by the end of 2003 or the beginning of 2004, property manager Martha Lueking said.