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Tecton presents preliminary designs for new Wilbraham police station

Date: 9/25/2014

WILBRAHAM – The Police Station Building Feasibility Committee examined and discussed the preliminary designs for a new police station, which included three potential site locations, the top choice for project managers being 10 Post Office Park.

“It’s got advantages; it’s got good soil material for drainage,” Jeff McElravy, architect and senior project manager for Tecton Architects, said. “The program fits well on it.”

The site plan, which is designed to fit on all three sites, includes additions such as areas specifically for communications, file storage, and training, he said.

10 Post Office Park is located on 1.48 acres near Monson Savings Bank, in front of the Post Office.

“We want a building where all the inter-relationships, the adjacencies, are met,” McElravy added. “Where we create security envelopes so that from the public standpoint you can come to the police station, you can ask help, you can seek service and it’s really easy.”

The other potential locations are 110 Post Office Park, with 1.6 acres, and 2780 Boston Road, located near the fire station on 1.8 acres.

The 10 and 110 Post Office Park sites were built on a old gravel quarry and consist of good quality soil, McElravy said. The Boston Road site’s soil is less desirable for construction.

“I’m a little concerned that we might have to tighten up the whole layout if we go to the 110 site,” he explained.

The Boston Road site has a few unknown elements such as potential environmental and drainage issues, McElravy added. The costs could end up being more or less than other sites, depending on studies.

“The one thing that the Boston Road site won’t ever have is a second way out onto a different road,” he stated. “Again, you could use through the fire station property, so at least you get to a different spot on Boston Road.”

Roger Fontaine, chair of the Feasibility Committee, said at this point there are no cost estimates because the project is in its initial design phase.

A new police station is dependent on a vote of approval by residents at the 2015 Annual Town Meeting. There is also Senior Center Building Feasibility Committee examining the costs and designs of a new senior center.

Police Chief Roger Tucker said the existing police station is 110 years old and has crumbling areas of its red brick foundation, inadequate spacing throughout the facility, and excess flooding in locations in the basement during heavy rainfall.

During its history, the police station has functioned as a school and a town hall. In 1955, the Police Department was formed and was operated on the lower levels until 1978 when the entire building became the station.

“For one it’s going to modernize the facility,” he said. “It’s going to locate the interior components, you know, the functional areas of the police department will be better laid out or secure.”

The existing 5,300-square-foot building has one interview room, used for report writing, reviewing evidence for attorneys, storing evidence, conducting a breathalyzer test, firearms licensing, and carrying out interviews.

The preliminary site design for the new police station includes to 10-by-10 foot interview rooms. The current police station is about one-third the size of the new station in the preliminary designs.

“Well, there’s a lot of program elements that this building doesn’t accommodate,” McElravy said. “Creating the right environment for the prisoner cells for instance, in compliance with the Health Department regulations is very difficult to do. We’ve got sight [and] sound separation issues.”

On Oct. 6, the Police Station Building Feasibility Committee will meet again at the Police Department at 3 p.m. to discuss the sites further. A police station open house is scheduled for Oct. 11. 

“We have to go through the appraisal process, follow all the state regulations for acquisition, and we’ll make that recommendation to the Board of Selectmen once we have the matrix that says, ‘This turns out to be the absolute preferred site to situate all our needs,” Fontaine said.