INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Sheriff's Office helicopters will be able to take off and land from the department's campus on 41st Avenue in Vero Beach by the end of the year.
Sheriff Deryl Loar said the department will build a 9,628-square-foot aviation hangar, 4,989 square feet of office space and a lighted heliport near the Indian River County Jail. The project is ready for bid, with a pre-bid meeting scheduled for April 21.
"It is part of our capital improvement plan," said Loar. "We have been leasing a hangar at the Vero Beach Regional Airport for over 20 years, but we think it will be easier to monitor if the helicopters are kept right on our site."
Currently, the Sheriff's Office pays the airport about $1,700 a month in rent, plus utilities and upkeep for the hanger, which Loar said is aging.
"It's going to save us a big monthly expense," Loar said. "And the airport is anxious to release us since they already have interest in the hangar."
The new, pre-engineered metal building system proposed for the Sheriff's Office is expected to cost between $1.5 and $2 million. It includes exterior impact resistant windows and doors, electrically operated, one-piece hydraulic powered aviation door system, along with standard roll-up overhead doors. Costs for the new hangar and heliport will be covered through impact fees and some optional sales tax money from Indian River County, Loar said.
The Sheriff's Office operates two OH-58 helicopters, one built in 1969 and the second in 1972. Although a bit antiquated, Loar said the two choppers are workhorses and kept in tiptop shape by a mechanic who specializes in repairing former military helicopters.
After the new hangar is constructed, both helicopters will be stored inside, and rolled out to the helicopter pad as needed. The office space, which is on the east and north sides of the new hangar, will include a debriefing room and offices for the K-9 and Ranch and Groves units.
As part of a long-range plan, Loar would like to see a trauma helicopter stationed at the Sheriff's Office in conjunction with Indian River County Fire Rescue. The helicopter and emergency personnel could respond directly from the helipad and reduce response time to emergencies. Also on the horizon for the Sheriff's Office complex are the possible construction of a new administration building and an upgraded 911 system for the county, Loar said.
OUT FOR BID
Bid documents for the aviation hangar and heliport are available at the Sheriff's Office Human Resources building, 3885 41st St.
There's a mandatory pre-bid meeting on April 21 at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, 4055 41st Ave.
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