The Marshalltown City Council made a good move hiring a consultant to explore the space needs of the police and fire departments.
While the findings were unsurprising - the city's police headquarters are nearly half of what it should be, and the 58-year-old fire department also needs an update - it was a good first step.
Also unsurprising is the nearly $24 million price tag that comes with the consideration of these projects.
While a hefty cost, it's clear the city must weigh its options for sustainability. It's also clear Marshalltown can't continue to house its vitally important police and fire departments in the existing structures.
The equipment for the fire department is too large for its building, meaning its tanker and hazardous material equipment is stored at other city sites. Meanwhile, the aging structure is showing wear, one of which may cost up to $400,000 to repair.
Lack of space and privacy are key problems at the police department, a former telephone company building which has housed the MPD for 30 years. Safety is another major consideration, with inadequate space for processing offenders.
Now it's up to the council to make good use of the $55,000 space needs study. City Administrator Randy Wetmore said the next step is surveying potential sites over the next month and a half - another good step forward.
It's time to start a long-range plan that will work for Marshalltown and the men and women who serve its police and fire departments.