MILTON, Ga. — Crews were pressure washing sidewalks, boxes were still being unloaded and some construction dust was still flying, but it was clear this week that only the final touches remain on Milton’s new Public Safety Complex.
The city’s new 40,000-square foot building, set to be formally opened Sept. 17, will house the city’s Municipal Court, police headquarters and Fire Station 44 at 13690 Highway 9, Milton GA 30074.
The city broke ground on the project last June, and a Milton official said the approximate $13 million complex is being completed on time and on budget.
Like City Hall, which opened in 2017, the Public Safety Complex was designed to be completely modern with a rural aesthetic, a nod to the city’s equestrian and farmland roots. There are also some special touches celebrating the city and its history.
The Milton Historical Society has donated several documents, including a portrait of the original courthouse of the area, that will be displayed on the walls of the Municipal Court. Two post oak trees that were removed from Broadwell Pavilion due to decay in 2016 were saved by the city with the intention of using them in some way in the future. After an aging process behind one of the city’s fire stations, they now have new purpose. The trees were milled, and several planks and beams have been incorporated into the construction of the new facility, most notably two large boards installed at two entryways in the bay of Fire Station 44.
For the city’s first responders, perhaps the most significant aspect of the new facility is the swaths of space compared to the former court and police headquarters, a rented building along Deerfield Parkway.
Office and workspaces have expanded significantly with still more room to grow. There are also new facilities to replace what were once makeshift spaces.
Milton Police now have an armory instead of housing guns in a closet, and there is a dedicated space for cleaning weapons, which Capt. Charles Barstow said will be a significant benefit for officers. Police also now have locker rooms for men and women with showers. Instead of using a room that had to serve several purposes, police now have a dedicated roll call room and break area.
The basement of police headquarters also has plenty of storage space that can also be used for additional workspaces if the department grows.
Also in the basement is the city’s new emergency operations center which can serve as a hub for city staff and public safety officials during severe weather or other emergencies. The setup ensures the center stays in operation to respond even if the power is out.
The Municipal Court has received several updates that go beyond a new building. Clerk of Court Brooke Lappin said she has been in all municipal courts in North Fulton, and Milton’s new facility is now on par or exceeds the technology used in neighboring cities. Some features include a new X-ray scanner that will allow those in the court to bring in bags or purses after they are scanned, an ADA-compliant audio system and new ways of streaming court sessions.
New tech is also prevalent throughout Fire Station 44. That includes the installation of a system to help keep firefighters heart rates low while preparing to respond to the call. Using a red lighting system throughout the station and an audio alarm that gradually increases in volume, firefighters awakened during overnight alarms don’t have the shock of a loud alarm or the jolt of their eyes having to immediately adjust to full lighting.
Instead of traditional, roll-up bay doors, the station has automatic, bi-fold doors that open and close in just a few seconds. Deputy Fire Chief Mark Stephens said the doors are also beneficial because the springs on traditional doors can wear out, and they are difficult to open manually.
There are also a bevy of safety initiatives aimed at keeping carcinogens on equipment away from firefighters. All equipment is stored in closed areas adjacent to the engine bay, a separate climate control system is used for equipment areas and living quarters and an automatic carbon dioxide system will vent the bay if the gas is detected.
The station also includes amenities like eight bunk areas, a massive modern kitchen, outdoor dining space and, unexpectedly enough, a fireplace.
There is also a gym that will be shared by the city’s police and fire personnel. The gym will be outfitted with refurbished equipment from the former Milton County Club property, which the city purchased in 2018.
Milton Police and the Municipal Court have already moved into the new Public Safety Complex with Fire Station 44 set to welcome fire personnel later this month.
The city will formally cut the ribbon on the complex next Thursday.