Training facility honors late ex-mayor

Tamir Kalifa

Fifteen months after the death of Roy Butler, Austin’s first voter-elected mayor, Austin’s Public Safety Training Campus opened Monday morning in honor of his dedication to keeping Austin safe.

Members of the Austin Fire Department, Austin Police Department and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services joined Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Austin officials and Ann Butler, widow of the former mayor, to inaugurate the facilities by cutting yellow caution tape.

“I remember hearing the vision of this campus to be a full-fledged higher education campus for public safety, literally like a public safety university,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez, who was an Austin firefighter for 13 years.

The expanded campus includes the Roy Butler Building, a 50,000- sq. foot facility that houses a gym, a weight room, classrooms and state-of-the-art computers and technology to serve the modern training demands of Austin’s emergency responders. With energy-efficient building infrastructure, city officials expect a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Other improvements to the 40-acre campus include a 40,300-sq. foot indoor shooting complex that replaced the previous outdoor range, a 3,350-sq. foot burn building, outdoor training facilities, a driving track, an emergency vehicle operating course and a SWAT obstacle course.

The $20 million in additions, renovations and environmental considerations were funded by 2006 bond funds and emphasize what Leffingwell believes is “the city’s commitment to being the safest city in the nation.”

As part of the Art in Public Places program, the City of Austin commissioned New York artist Chris Doyle to produce “Showershade,” an outdoor pavilion with silhouettes of training cadets cut out of the roof to create animated shadows during the day.

“Public safety is the cornerstone and foundation of a world class city,” Martinez said. “Without public safety, you don’t have education, you don’t have jobs, you don’t have quality of life.”