NEW BEDFORD — Mayor Jon Mitchell and other New Bedford notables officially opened the city's new $20 million South Public Safety Center — the first new police and fire station to be built in over 50 years — in the South End this morning.

Police, fire, and EMS personnel are already starting operations out of the new space, which will also house emergency management, fire prevention, and Animal Control in the coming weeks.

Located where St. Anne's Church used to stand at 910 Brock Ave., the 25,000 square foot facility holds the South End police station as well as a four-bay fire station, consolidating operations for both Station 6 (built 1882) and the former Station 11 (built 1911.)

Construction on the project began in September 2019.

Mitchell noted that New Bedford holds the "dubious distinction" of owning the oldest stock of fire stations, including many designed for horse-drawn engines, in Massachusetts — "as of yesterday," he added with a smile.

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The new facility will allow the city to close, repurpose or redevelop five deteriorating city-owned buildings, according to a statement from the mayor's office.

"We're very proud of our new home for Engine 6 and Ladder 3," said Acting Fire Chief Scott Kruger. "It's been a long time coming, as the mayor said. 1956 was the last time we opened a new fire station here in the city."

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Kruger said that the technology in the building is "state-of-the-art," with decontamination and laundry facilities on site for firefighters to clean their gear of cancer-causing chemicals.

"We have great firefighters," he added. "They do a great job. This is a station that they deserve."

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"The place does speak for itself," said Mitchell. "This is a glorious facility that we are pleased to open up at long last today."

"We believe that this is going to be around for a long time, and effectively protect the residents of the South End for a long time," he noted, adding that the $20 million price tag for the city's ratepayers is "money well invested."

"We could have done this cheaper," he said. "We wanted to make sure that as we tore down a church that had been here since the 40s, that it was replaced with something that people could take pride in."

Plus, Mitchell noted, modernizing all of the other facilities consolidated in the new safety center would have cost an estimated $30 million.

"So this is a big win for the South End of the city and the city more generally," he said. "It's a mark of our commitment to public safety."

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