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Building age, size necessitates new police station

Date: 5/30/2013

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — The Police Department recently took its first step toward getting a new facility when residents approved a police station needs study.

Chief Roger Tucker said the Police Department has been in need of a facility for some time. The 110-year-old building simply isn't big enough anymore.

"It's mostly a space issue," he said. "A previous needs assessment said our department is utilizing about 1/3 of the space the average modern department would use."

Tucker added that sensitive equipment is not currently stored in safe areas.

"We have moisture issues in our basement that could affect some important equipment," he said. "Our 911 equipment is in the basement, so there is a risk there."

Tucker explained that a needs assessment that had been done by the town in the past suggested that the town should pursue the creation of a public safety complex to house both the Police and Fire departments, however, with the recent renovation of the fire station on Boston Road, the Police Department would be looking to build its own facility.

He went on to say that any new facility would need to be in a new location.

"The footprint of the current department is too small for any expansion or rebuilding," he said. "Part of the needs assessment will be to identify potential new locations."

Tucker said the new police station would have to be centrally located, not only for purposes of quick response by officers, but also so it would be easily accessible to the public.

"We have a lot of people who come to our lobby to make a report or speak to an officer," he said. "We have child custody exchange programs that take place on our property and we have had people come to our lobby in emergency situations, so being visible is one of our main concerns."

Tucker said there had been talk of exploring the possibility of using one of the closed schools in town, however, Tucker said that situation would not be ideal from an accessibility standpoint.

"The problem I have with those properties is they are at the end of long, dark roads," he said. "Especially at night, it would not be easy to find."

Building Inspector Lance Trevallion, who was involved in the building of the renovated fire station, said he would not have a major role in the police station project, short of helping with the designer selection process.