Who will develop a plan to renovate the police station?

Back in November, the Board of Selectmen endorsed a plan for a new one-story building to replace the existing police station. At a meeting last month they reversed course and requested that a plan to renovate the current building be developed in parallel.

“There seems to be a desire by the town to investigate an addition/renovation,” Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf said.

But who exactly is going to develop the renovation plan remains a point of strong contention.

The Municipal Facilities Committee developed the plan for the new building, and they’d like to be the ones to develop a renovation/addition scheme. The problem is, they’re out of money.

Last year, Town Meeting appropriated $98K to develop a schematic design for an updated police station. Most of the funds were used to develop plans for the new one-story building. While there’s nothing left to pursue a renovation/addition plan, Municipal Facilities Committee member Brian Shea told selectmen they have an architect who is willing to donate time and “do what she can.”

The Historical Commission, meanwhile, has taken it upon themselves to develop a preliminary plan for renovating and adding on to the existing police station. They presented the plan to the public at a meeting in March. Because it’s a preservation project, the Historical Commission told selectmen they can apply for funds from the Community Preservation Committee to advance their plan.

So why can’t the Municipal Facilities Committee and the Historical Commission work together on a renovation/addition plan? In short, because they don’t trust each other.

“The motivations of our two groups are different,” Tom McCarthy told selectmen. McCarthy is a member of both the Municipal Facilities Committee and the Historical Commission.

“I’m not comfortable that the groups can work together,” Phaneuf said. “There’s a breakdown, a disconnect. I’m not sure the groups will meet in the middle.”

Historical Commission member Nancy Vargas, the architectural designer who developed the preliminary renovation/addition plan, said she was reluctant to hand her plan off to the Municipal Facilities Committee. “It’s incredibly unfair that our work will be passed off to a committee that has wanted no part of it.”

“They’re just going to butcher the plan because they don’t want it,” David Falconi, a member of the Historical Commission, said.

But selectmen said they need to figure out a way to move forward. “We’re going to have to find a way for people to play nicely together,” Chairman Bill Boland said.

Selectman Sal Giorlandino agreed. “I want what’s been said and done to be water under the bridge, and let’s just move forward. The overall goal is too critical for the town.”

The Selectmen indicated they wanted to have the addition/renovation plan complete in time for the fall town meeting. But how that happens is still anyone’s guess. Stay tuned.

Related stories:
Putting life into the building
Should the police station be torn down?
Selectmen lend support to new police station

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14 years ago

A renovation with addition will more than likely be very costly. Although there will be those who argue, the building does not have overwhelming historic value. Do everyone in town a favor: get the most bang for the buck and put in a new state of the art facility. The police officers surely deserve it.

14 years ago

What happened to the alternative sites?????? There are buildings available for much less than $7.2 million dollars. We must get more aggressive and pursue the owners

This would keep the building for historic preservation and not inconvenience police or fire.

14 years ago

If they construct a new building on the current property, it would be behind the fire station. It could be done without heavily disrupting any operations. A renovation….it would be tough. Everything would have to be moved out and the building NEEDS to be totally gutted. Communications, jail cells…that would create a real problem.

14 years ago

Still…..the town has a major history of throwing good money after bad. With all of the upgrades needed in that building to bring it up to current codes, I think new would be less expensive. Back in the very early investigations of a Public Safety Complex (yes, there were meetings and drawings), there were plans to construct a new police station along the St. Mark’s property line on the west border, and attach it to the fire station. This would work…using the current police station until construction was complete, then tearing the old building down to accomodate parking and moving the driveway.

14 years ago

Yes, John the new construction project IS located behind the fire station and is now too close to the existing building. The existing building will have to be demolished at the start of construction, thus the police department relocated. These costs seem to be greater that the necessary upgrades to the existing building. You can contact the town house for the most current drawings of the proposal and you will see the actual conditions.

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