After five years of planning, construction and a complicated move, the county communications center has begun operations at its new location in the basement of the community corrections center at the airport.

The changeover took place last Thursday, Dec. 6, and included help from Barnstable County Sheriffs department communication center, according to sheriff Michael A. McCormack.

The $1.5 million project, funded mostly by state grants, brings the center into the digital age, the sheriff said. The facility handles thousands of calls a year.

Sheriff McCormack said work included moving 50 telephone lines and installing a new radio tower earlier this year.

For a day and a half last week all 911 calls coming to the center were handled by the Barnstable communication center, which serves as backup for Dukes County.

The move might have happened earlier this year but was delayed for the benefit of the dispatchers at the height of summer. “This is the time to do it. There might have been a better time, but all the tourists have gone home,” the sheriff said.

The new 3,000-square-foot facility is larger, more secure than the old facility, weather-safe and underground.

An open house for the general public will be held in April.