What began more than 14 years ago as an idea to help improve public safety across East County took the next step toward becoming a reality on Friday morning, when ground was broken for a new San Diego County Sheriff's Station in Rancho San Diego.
Sheriff Bill Gore was joined by Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Skyline Church pastor Jim Garlow and others for the groundbreaking of the 27,000-square-foot facility, which will be an epicenter for deputies who work several areas of East County, including Spring Valley, Casa de Oro, Lemon Grove, Mt. Helix, Jamul, Rancho San Diego and unincorporated parts of La Mesa and El Cajon. About 100,000 people live in these areas.
The facility will sit on five acres of a 15-acre parcel of land adjacent to Skyline Church, high above Campo Road. The county purchased the land from Skyline in 2009, according to Jacob, who said that the relationship between the Sheriff's Department and the church is a unique one.
"It's definitely a partnership," she said. "I don't know where else you have such a large congregation supporting and praying for our law enforcement officers."
The new station will feature an underground parking garage, one floor of office space and an operations center. It will feature many green building initiatives, including recycled building materials, natural day lighting, energy efficient mechanical systems and low-water-use landscaping by utilizing drought-tolerant and indigenous plants.
The architect on the project was Jeff Katz Architecture. The contractor is T.B. Penick and Sons.
Capt. Gigi McCalla of the Lemon Grove Sheriff’s Station said that the location could not be better.
"This is really exciting for the area," she said, citing that response times should decrease given the areas that the Lemon Grove Sheriff Station currently patrols. "We feel really privileged to be able to have [this station], although all we really have now is a piece of dirt!"
McCalla said that about 20 of her staff will stay at the Lemon Grove Station.
Grading and infrastructure work on the facility will begin later this month. Construction will take place throughout 2012 and the station is expected to be open and operational by the Spring of 2013. A representative from the contractor said that the project will create 250 jobs for the area.
"I'm thrilled," said Jacob. "The communities of East County are looking forward to it. There is nothing more important to me than the men and women who risk their lives helping keep us safe."