State to build preparedness cityscape

WHITESTOWN — Bids are being sought to build a cityscape for first-responder drills at the state Preparedness Training Center.

Estimated cost of the reality-based training venue that will simulate indoor and outdoor urban settings emergency first responders might encounter is in the range of $9 million to $12 million. Planned scenarios run from schools to offices and restaurants to retail locations like shops and banks. Street scenes will include curb cuts and traffic lights. Special effects will include sounds and artificial smoke.

The objective is to be able to run exercises that are nearly identical to real-life situations.

The planned addition to the facility at the former county airport is the latest project in its development since it opened in 2006 with only classroom space in the main terminal building.

Bids are due Aug. 29 at the state Office of General Services. Construction is expected to start later this year, to be completed in the second quarter of 2014.

The center has a full-time staff of about 16 with a payroll of approximately $1 million. The state is in the midst of a 15-year lease with Oneida County and pays annual rent of $636,000. It is operated by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

Through the end of last year, more than 350 courses had been offered by the state agency to nearly 9,200 first responders since 2006.