Overland Park’s new, state-of-the-art Public Safety Center, a combination fire and police station, opened this June, but the challenges presented by its location at the intersection of 162nd and Antioch had to be solved back in 2013 to enable the project to move forward.
Before the first piece of construction equipment arrived, Pat Kullberg worked on the site design that would transform an undeveloped plot of land into a public service facility. As Shafer, Kline & Warren’s (SKW) team leader of development services, Kullberg specializes in the site assessment and planning needed for developments such as this one to become a reality.
“A big part of site assessment and planning is meeting with the client and developing a comprehensive understanding of their needs,” said Kullberg. “They understand operationally how their site needs to work for their business to serve the community. We are able to ask the right questions of everyone involved to determine if the site will be able to meet those needs and expectations.”
In the case of the Overland Park Public Safety Center, the challenge was access. The steep site, which included a creek, limited the placement and orientation on the site for the new facility. Another consideration was the fire station had to be able to use the intersection signal to control traffic when emergency vehicles were dispatched to respond to emergencies. The station is located in very close proximity to a four-way signalized intersection, so Kullberg collaborated with SKW CEO and Transportation Engineer Ron Petering to develop a solution.
In addition to Kullberg’s unique design of the roadway island to allow for the large vehicle turning radius, Petering designed non-standard signal phasing and prioritized signal interruption for the facility’s two exits to meet the emergency vehicle needs. This allows the police and firefighters to respond quickly and efficiently when emergency calls come in.
Like the safety center, any undeveloped site has its unique set of circumstances and challenges, from the size of the future building to the amount of parking needed, as well as public access, stormwater treatment, utility access, topography, landscaping and lighting requirements, and zoning.
“You want to look at all of the site factors and conditions in totality so you don’t get way down the line and discover you didn’t look into something or account for it in the plan and design,” said Kullberg. “Our experience is very important. We know what pitfalls are out there from our experience dealing with everything from different soil types to environmental factors and utility providers.”
Kullberg added that scheduling is an ever-present challenge; clients often want to move the project’s schedule along quickly, but obtaining information from all the utilities and municipalities that will be involved in the development can be time consuming.
“Developing a site is rarely a simple task and often requires a significant investment for the owner,” said Kullberg. “So, we know our job is to help the owner or developer get the site developed as quickly as possible, so they can start generating revenue. To that end, we educate our clients on the scheduling challenges that can arise, so they are able to account for them in their planning and have clearer picture of the investment they’ll need to make in order to get their product to market.”
Kullberg’s experience includes working with municipalities, such as Overland Park, as well as local and national developers on a range of projects from industrial warehouses to commercial offices, retail buildings and schools. When providing site assessment and planning, Kullberg often assists the client throughout the entire process from contacting utilities and municipalities during the initial assessment through the site design, planning and approval processes, including city council and zoning hearings.
“Helping a client meet their development goals is rewarding,” said Kullberg. “I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how we are going to take an existing site and transform it. A lot of people don’t realize just how much goes into making development possible. It’s a fun and truly rewarding process.”