new m.e. office
IMAGE COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY A PLACE TO SOLVE MEDICAL MYSTERIES — This rendering shows what the new medical examiner’s facility will look like when it’s completed next year. The County Council recently approved a $16.1 million construction contract with a Sanford company to build it. Groundbreaking is expected later this year.

Construction of a new facility for Volusia County’s medical examiner is expected to start later this year, after the County Council approved a $16.1 million contract recently to build a new headquarters for the county’s morgue operations.

If everything stays on track, construction is expected to get underway in September and take about a year to complete.

The new site is an approximately 3.3-acre parcel about a mile from the current building on Indian Lake Road in Daytona Beach. At 19,892 square feet, the new, single-story building will provide a more modern and spacious workspace, state-of-the-art autopsy stations and a family meeting room. The new site is off Tiger Bay Road, just east of the Sheriff’s Office’s evidence facility and south of the county’s Fire Rescue Training Center.

The facility is designed to meet the medical examiner’s space needs for the next 20 years, with the site capable of supporting an expansion of the building should the need occur in the future.

The Medical Examiner’s Office has been working for some time to become an accredited agency through the National Association of Medical Examiners. While the current morgue facilities have some space and storage deficiencies that wouldn’t pass national standards, Volusia County Medical Examiner Dr. James Fulcher told the County Council in early April that the new building is the only thing needed for the agency to achieve accredited status.

“Operationally, we are functioning as an accredited office,” Dr. Fulcher told the council during an April 5 presentation. “The only thing I’m missing is that building.”

Sanford-based Wharton-Smith Inc. has been under contract since 2019 as construction manager and general contractor for the project. The company’s preconstruction services included coordination with the architect on the design of the building.

On April 19, the council unanimously approved the construction contract with Wharton-Smith, which established a maximum cost of $16,087,250.

Council members said the new morgue facility is a definite necessity.

“It’s not just nice to have. It’s an absolute requirement,” said County Chair Jeff Brower. “It’s important to law enforcement. It’s important to every resident of Volusia County, and the time to do it is now.”

County Manager George Recktenwald said the county has been planning and setting aside money for some time to prepare for the project, noting that major efforts have been made along the way to make the design as economical as possible while still ensuring the facility has everything that’s needed.

“They did what they could do to make sure it was cost-effective. But the things in there that we have to have are very important,” Recktenwald told the council. “We want to have a great facility for all of our residents.”


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