By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Residents who want the full tour of Mankato's new Public Safety Center will have their chance Oct. 23, but it could be their only chance without a badge.
Much of the new facility, which brings Mankato law enforcement and firefighters together in a single public safety headquarters for the first time, will be closed to the public once staff moves in at the end of October or early November. So the tour will provide access to areas that will require a special clearance in the future.
"People will be able to see parts of the building they won't be able to see after we occupy it," said Public Safety Director Todd Miller.
There will be a program and dedication at 12:30 p.m. and tours will take place from 1-8 p.m. Miller said staff will be in different locations in the building to explain how each area will be used and to answer questions.
In addition to having the headquarters for both police officers and firefighters, the new $12 million center also has a firehouse with several truck bays.
"The city is better positioned to provide optimal response times, particularly to west Mankato, hilltop and neighborhoods to the west, south and north of the university," a news release said. "By having a combined police and fire department, there are substantial resources to deploy to keep the community safe."
Combining the departments also saves money and improves services, the release said.
The fire station on Madison Avenue will remain open until a new fire station is built near the intersection of Augusta Drive and Victory Drive in the northeast corner of the city. Miller said city staff were working with architects last week to start planning the new station.
"We'll do the designing throughout the winter, bidding in February, then construction will begin as the season starts," Miller said.