When Stow Dispatch Supervisor Ginger Hatfield walked around a now vacant portion of the Summit County Health Department building on Graham Road in Cuyahoga Falls Sept. 27, she expressed why she sees it as a frontrunner for a proposed regional dispatch center.

"As soon as I saw this place, I said, 'This is a dispatch center," said Hatfield.

"It looks like it's built for it," said Stow City Councilor John Pribonic as he walked with her.

Stow, Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge are considering forming a Council of Governments, with the goal of doing so by the end of the year, in order to create a regional dispatch center by the middle of next year. About 5,000 square feet at the rear of the health department building, on the south side of Graham and just west of Route 8, is the leading contender among three locations that have been considered.

Hatfield and Pribonic were among about 20 area officials looking at the site, some for the first time.

The space includes one large room for dispatch consoles, along with office space, an equipment room, a kitchen and bathrooms.

"We have the ability to put 16 consoles in here," said Stow Fire Capt. Paul Amonett. "It's basically a big open space we can build on. That's what we're looking for."

Stow Mayor Sara Kline said a lease agreement with the county is still being negotiated. Work to be done on the building would include securing the entrance and constructing walls to separate the dispatch center from the rest of the building.

"So people really can't come in here," she said.

Kline acknowledged that the building sustained "significant [flood] damage" during the May 2014 storm, but new drainage infrastructure that has been reviewed by the city's engineering department has been installed to prevent a similar occurrence.

"It's something we had questions about," said Kline.

Kline said if the health department ever decides to sell the building, "we would have right of first refusal with what we want to do, which we would not have with other locations."

See the Oct. 2 edition of the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press for the complete story.

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