COUNTY—$500,000 in federal funds requested by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) for designing and planning a new Ocean County 9-1-1 Call Center and Emergency Management Office (OEM) cleared a major hurdle in Congress this week as the House Appropriations Committee voted to advance legislation funding projects for the upcoming fiscal year to the House Floor.
“This modest but meaningful federal support will help scope out the requirements for a new emergency call center which is needed to meet the growing needs of the fast-rising population in Ocean,” said Smith. “Centralizing the important functions of the Sheriff’s updating and planning for a modern, state-of-the-art facility will help ensure that our brave first responders have the best communications systems and equipment as embark on the beginning stages of this project.”
Smith said that ensuring the facility is properly designed and planned is an important step to prevent any needless setbacks during the construction process and to confirm the proposal meets minimum requirements for possible funding down the road.
“A new, consolidated and modernized 9-1-1 center is long overdue to deliver better emergency services to future generations of our county residents,” said Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy. “The existing 9-1-1 system and related OEM offices are currently dispersed and operating from out-of-date buildings and facilities.”
“This is very important funding that will jumpstart the design and engineering of the much-needed Ocean County 9-1-1 center,” Mastronardy said. “I thank Congressman Smith for his support of a crucial project that will protect people throughout Ocean County.”
The federal dollars championed by Smith will help fund the concept, site design and permitting plans to build the 60,000-square-foot 9-1-1 call center that would consolidate seven separate buildings currently dispersed across Ocean County, the second-largest county in the state at 629 square miles. The federal investment in a proper design shows an initial federal interest and could help attract other support as the project enters the significant construction phase.
In addition to streamlining services, the new 9-1-1 call center will also help officials keep up with the greater needs of a growing population across the county, which is home to one of the fastest-growing towns in America—Lakewood.
The latest Census released in 2021 shows the county’s population grew by 60,662 residents over the past ten years to a total population of 648,998—a more than 10.5 percent increase.
“This significant growth demands that the county modernize its emergency services to better serve its residents and ensure our families and neighborhoods remain safe,” said Smith.
Passed by the House Appropriations Committee, the FY2023 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill now awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives.