PLAISTOW — The long process toward building a new police station could take a big step forward within the next month.
On May 15, the town’s Public Safety Complex Committee will be holding interviews with five design firms vying to complete a feasibility study for a new police station and refurbished public safety complex.
The five firms submitted proposals last month to conduct a feasibility study, prepare a preliminary design schematic, and cost estimates for a stand-alone police station behind the current facility on the same lot on Elm Street. The town is also asking that the firm that is hired look at the rehabilitation of the existing building for the fire department and possibly the town’s inspectional services departments.
Late last year, selectmen agreed to spend $25,000 raised through public safety impact fees on the preliminary engineering and architectural study for the new police station.
The public safety committee will use the May 15 interviews to make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen to hire one of the firms for the feasibility study.
Fire Chief and committee member John McArdle said each firm will be given 30 minutes and asked to answer three questions the committee has submitted to the firms.
Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said each member of the public safety committee will fill out a separate and thorough evaluation form for each firm and turn those results in to selectmen to help them make a final decision on hiring a firm.
McArdle said the town has been looking at the possibility of a new police station and updated public safety facility for the better part of a decade.
“The longer we wait, the more it is going to cost,” he said. “It is inevitable that the building is going to be built. It is a matter of how much we are willing to pay and how long we are willing to wait.”
The police department and emergency management department have been sharing the current building with the fire department since it was built in 1985, even though the intent in the 1980s was to have the building house only the fire department.
Once the public safety committee makes its recommendations to selectmen, the board will then hold its own interviews of as many firms as it sees fit.
“The number of finalists will be based on the scoring (the committee) does,” said Selectman John Sherman. “There could be two or three based on the initial evaluation.”
Since the successful firm will play a large role in presenting information about the project to the public prior to a Town Meeting vote, selectmen Chairman Dan Poliquin said he wants the town to hire a firm that will be able to sell the project.