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New police station in the hands of voters (Wed. night)

May 18, 2013

BELLINGHAM – Annual Town Meeting voters will be asked Wednesday to approve hiring an architect to design a new police station in town.
The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in the Bellingham High school auditorium, 60 Blackstone St.
The town wants to build a bigger, more modernized station because the current facility is dated, too small and unsafe, according to police officials. Not only does the current station need extensive renovation of the holding cells, it also needs a new roof and a new boiler, among other things.
On Wednesday, voters will consider Article 17, which seeks $400,000 from free cash to kick off the design phase for the estimated $6.3 million police station. The proposed 14,000-square-foot, one-story station would be built on town-owned land between the library and fire department on Blackstone Street, and would replace the current station located in two small separate buildings adjacent to Town Hall on Mechanic Street.
The article is being recommended by the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee and the Capital Improvement Committee.
If voters approve the design phase funds, the plan goes to the October Special Town Meeting with updated information and a proposal to move forward with actual construction.
A Police Station Building Committee, which was created in 2011 by a vote of Town Meeting, has been working with Kaestle Boos Associates Inc., a Foxboro architectural firm, to develop the preliminary design for the new station, which originally started out with a price tag of $8 million and nearly 20,000 square feet.
The committee has been able to reduce both the cost and the size of the project to avoid having to seek a Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion override.
Members of the Police Station Building Committee include Selectmen Michael Soter and Edward Featherston, Police Chief Gerard Daigle, Police Captain Gerard Corriveau, Police Lt. Kevin Ranieri, Town Administrator Denis Fraine and Finance Committee Chairman Joseph Collamati Jr.
The new station will have larger cells, a dispatch center and a community room, all in a building big enough to accommodate department personnel, which includes nearly 30 officers, six dispatchers and three administrative staff members.
Voters Wednesday will also be asked to:
•Approve the $2.9 million debt authorized by a March 7 vote of the Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District to pay the costs of renovating and reconfiguring the vocational high school.
• Direct the Board of Selectmen to petition the Legislature to enact legislation granting the board the authority to issue an additional package store beer and wine license for Ayman Nakda, 829 South Main St., doing business as Penguin Convenience Store.
• Allow the Board of Selectmen to establish a program that allows veterans to provide volunteer services to the town in exchange for a tax bill reduction of up $1,000.

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