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Police Station Subcommittee seeks to reduce project by $1 million

Date: 3/26/2015

WILBRAHAM – The proposed new police station project costs came in at approximately $9 million and now the Police Station Building Feasibility Subcommittee is looking to readdress the designs in order to reduce the price by 10 percent.

Subcommittee Chair Roger Fontaine told Reminder Publications that $9 million for the project is “totally unacceptable.”  

“I just think it’s way too high to deliver the product that we need for a current police station,” he added. “We have a footprint. We have a location and we’ve got the architect’s schematic [design], but we’ve got to squeeze that down and look at all the amenities and make sure that we’re delivering a cost effective that will support us for the next 50 years.”

Fontaine said the subcommittee told architect Jeff McElravy of Tecton to examine the schematic designs and reduce the project at minimum to $8 million. At a future meeting, McElravy would likely present the changes.

At its Jan. 5 meeting, the subcommittee voted to approve 2780 Boston Road as its preferred site. The property consists of 1.8 acres, which includes a residential home. Helen Moore is the owner.

“We’ve had a discussion and the delineation there is they put a proposal in, so we have a maximum number and the proposed offering was $445,000,” he added. “We’ve had a meeting with them [last] week and we’ll meet again [this] week and hopefully come to some conclusions.”

Despite the reduction of the price by approximately 10 percent, Fontaine noted that the designs wouldn’t “be all that different” from the previous ones.

“We’ve got maintain the functionality,” he added. “We know what we need. We need locker rooms. We need lockup cells and so and so forth and the dispatch center. The question is if we squeeze 10 or 15 percent on that floor plan [will] that still give us that functionality and be a more favorable cost bargain?”

Fontaine said several years ago when the Fire Department was looking to build a new fire station the topic of building a joint police and fire public safety complex was not discussed. At the time, Fontaine was a member of the Capital Planning Committee.

“I think that discussion around a public safety complex goes all the way back into the 1990s,” he added. “The discussion back then was to build a public safety complex and the proposed numbers were $15 to $18 million and when you look where we are today, we’ll have both of those updated for half that cost, it is my hope.”

There is “absolutely no question” that the project would be ready for residents to vote on during the Annual Town Meeting on May 11 and at the ballot during the Town Election on May 16, he noted.

“Were just honing in on making sure we got the correct numbers when we go to Town Meeting,” Fontaine said. “We’ll absolutely have a proposal. The article for Town Meeting is already written and the ballot question for the May 11 vote is already written, it’s a matter of plugging in the right numbers.”

The Board of Selectmen would likely vote the article along with the rest of the warrant on in early April, Fontaine added.

Open houses are scheduled to take place at the police station on April 11 and May 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., he noted. The subcommittee would also host an open forum, tentatively scheduled for April 9 and 28.

“We want to give people the opportunity to ask questions and see what’s going on,” he added. “[We hope to] answer questions as to what it is, what the cost is, and to clarify any misconceptions. I have not heard anyone say, ‘We do not need a new police station.’ The question is, ‘What are people willing to pay?’”