At Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, members followed up on two discussions with the town’s emergency chiefs.
They gave both chiefs the greenlight to continue exploring a site on Middle Road for a new public safety building. (For those of you who complain about the layout of the Transfer Station, there could be some good news here.)
And they approved Police Chief Kenneth Paulhus’ request to arm his force with tasers.
Earlier this month, Chief Paulhus requested permission to purchase tasers and train police officers to use them. This week, Selectmen unanimously approved the request.
The only objection was from resident Donna McDaniel. She criticized the board for voting without widley publicizing the issue for public comment.
Selectmen rebutted that the agenda was publicly advertised. And they pointed out that another issues on the agenda brought many residents out to comment.
The board believed lack of response on this issue indicated lack of concern from residents.
Public Safety Building
Town employees updated the BOS on their investigation into a new public safety building. The presentation detailed why the current buildings no longer meet the town’s needs.
One of the issues was capacity, including:
- Police Station lacks separate jail cells for females or juneniles. (Legally, females must be seperated from male prisoners by sight and juveniles from adults by both sight and sound.)
- Fire station’s 4 bays, require “stacking” vehicles behind eachother. In emergency responses, vehicles must be shifted to allow rear vehicle out. And if a front vehicle becomes incapacitated, the rear vehicle would be boxed in.
- The Fire station has a sincle bathroom and shower which must be shared by males and females
Other issues included costs of needed repairs, lack of storage for files and equipment, and poor conditions for the emergency staff working in the sites. Selectman John Rooney reacted to the condition of the property as “somewhat embarassing”.
The group* also listed impediments for using the current site for updated facilities. (You can read the overview in the meeting packet, beginning on page 19. Or watch the full presentation here, starting 2 hrs 45 minutes in.)
Town Administrator Mark Purple informed the board that town owned land at the Transfer Station appears to be a viable location.
Designated as 0 Middle Road**, the mostly empty lot overlaps the current recycling area of the town Transfer Station on Cordaville Road/Route 85. The main egress would likely be via Rte 85 at the existing traffic light.
Of course, the main benefit to the town would be avoiding the cost of purchasing land. That was what prompted Bonnie Phaneuf to ask the group to investigate the site when they were before the board in July.
Purple said that upon initial investigation, it looks good. He sought permission to continue studying the site at no cost.
The TA explained they need to figure out if the site will work for fire, police and the transfer station. He said they need to see if they can:
make the transfer station in a better more economical pattern, traffic pattern, flow pattern, manageability for [DPW Director Karen Galligan] to assign personnel there to manage it as well as to provide a sustainable location for a public safety facility that can serve this town for the next 50-70 years.
If that appears to work, they would also make recommendations on how to use the current public safety buildings for other town departments. One possibility was having the Recreation Department move into the Fire Station.
The board still wasn’t ready to appoint an official committee to the project. Selectman Dan Kolenda said that if other groups like the Advisory Board wanted to help the effort that would be welcomed. But he believed creating a special committee at this stage would lead to “analysis paralysis”.
*The group currently working on the project is Purple, Fire Chief John Mauro, Chief Paulhus, Finance Director Brian Ballentine, and Facilities Director John Parent.
**[Editor’s Note: If you “google” 0 Middle Road, you will be pointed to the wrong spot on the map. Google Maps confuses the mostly empty lot with abutting properties 118-134 Middle Road or 206 Turnpike Road.]