GARFIELD PARK — A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the city's largest maintenance garage and yard — which will move to Englewood — will be used to start construction on a state-of-the-art $95 million training facility for Chicago police and fire recruits, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced.
Although Emanuel first announced plans for the new facility July 3, he traveled on Sunday to Garfield Park to release the first detailed plans for the 30.4-acre police and fire center at 4301 W. Chicago Ave.
About $20 million from the sale of the nearby Fleet and Facilities operations center will be used to purchase the Garfield Park property and start construction on the state-of-the-art facility. The first responders school is designed to address serious concerns outlined by the U.S. Justice Department in its investigation of the Chicago Police Department that found officers graduate from the five-month academy "unprepared to police lawfully and effectively."
Fleet and Facilities Management Commissioner David Reynolds has said it would take 18 months to three years to move the department's operations from Goose Island to the long-vacant former home of Kennedy King City College in Englewood near 69th Street and Wentworth Avenue.
Emanuel said proceeds from the sale of the 18-acre riverfront property will also be used to fund much-needed improvements to the city's 311 system.
“Public safety officials need the best tools, technology and training to serve our city and its residents, and this facility will provide a place for them to prepare and practice for everyday encounters,” Emanuel said. “This is not only a significant investment in the West Garfield Park and Englewood neighborhoods, but it's proof of our continuing commitment to expand city services to more communities.”
City officials have signed a letter of agreement to buy the long-vacant land in one of the city's most violent neighborhoods. The City Council is expected to finalize the purchase later this year, with construction set to start in 2018 and take two years to complete.
“The public safety training academy in West Garfield Park will drive economic and community development, boost public safety and contribute to a safer ward and safer city for our families," said 37th Ward Ald. Emma Mitts. "There’s no doubt that the thousands of first responders trained at this state-of-the-art facility will save lives."
The facility will replace the current police training academy at 1300 W. Jackson Blvd., built in 1976; the fire prevention training facility at 1010 S. Clinton St., built in 1950; and the Fire Academy South at 1338 S. Clinton St., built in 1965, officials said.
In addition to a main building that will feature classrooms and administrative offices, a second building will house a pool to train for water rescues and a shooting range. The campus also will have a driving course, a skid pad and a place for "hands-on practice in real-world situations."
[City of Chicago]
The main building also will have labs, simulators, conference rooms and an auditorium. The facility also will improve police and fire collaboration in emergency response, according to a statement from the mayor's office.
In the next two years, Emanuel has promised to add 970 positions to the Police Department: 516 police officers, 200 detectives, 112 sergeants, 50 lieutenants and 92 field training officers. The department also plans to fill 500 vacant positions.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel examines the plans for the new $95 million training facility for Chicago police and fire recruits. [City of Chicago]