By Tamas Mondovics

With quicker cleanups and enhanced public safety as its main goal, Hillsborough County’s Rapid Response team now has a home of its own, in a form of a new headquarters facility.

To officially take ownership of its new headquarters facility located at 122 W. Bloomingdale Ave. in Brandon, the 19-member Rapid Response team welcomed County officials including Commissioners, Kevin Beckner and Stacy White who were joined by local community leaders, county code enforcement officials and area residents.

“The opening of this new facility is about getting things done and, getting things done quickly,” said, Hillsborough County Assistant Administrator Dexter Barge, who directly oversees the team’s operation.

The new headquarters building is the County’s former Fire station No.7, a surplus building, which set vacant following its crew’s relocation to a newly constructed station, just two miles east on Bloomingdale Ave.

Until now, Rapid Response employees have been working out of several buildings scattered throughout Hillsborough County.

“This is a perfect utilization of County resources, while making Hillsborough County a better and safer place to live,” Beckner told those in attendance.

All present during the grand opening celebration were treated to a special ribbon-cutting as members of the Rapid Response team assisted Beckner and White to blast away a ribbon of graffiti at the same time repainting the blemish-free spot at the station, while using the department’s anti-graffiti truck.

White emphasized that the purpose of the Rapid Response team is to quickly resolve problems before they pose a threat to public safety or diminish a neighborhood’s quality of life.

The unit’s duties include investigating and cleaning up illegal dumping and gang graffiti along with securing and demolishing dangerous structures, assessing and repairing damage after natural disasters, providing outreach and recovery assistance to the homeless, marine safety, and assisting the Sheriff’s Office.

“This new facility has centralized the department and will reduce our response time by 17 percent,” Rapid Response director, Jon-Paul Lavandeira said.

Just last year the team conducted 190 inspections and cleaned up approximately 736 tons of debris scattered throughout the County., or call 813-274- 6600.

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