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January 18. 2013 12:09AM

Warrant articles deal with New Ipswich's Building No. 2

NEW IPSWICH - Finding a place for the members of the police department to work is the focus of one town warrant article. Ensuring nobody ever occupies the former police department is the focus of another.

Currently, the New Ipswich Police Department operates out of a rented office building across from town hall, but the property has been put up for sale by the owner, said Selectman George Lawrence. There's no guarantee that the department will be asked to leave the premises if the property is sold. The town was offered the first chance to buy the property and turned it down. Now the board and some residents believe it's time to consider a long-term solution for the town's space needs.

The board has proposed spending anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 to conduct a feasibility study to look for a suitable location for a joint safety complex that would house the town's police, fire department and ambulance service. The board will put an article on the warrant to allow for that study, but Lawrence said they haven't decided how much money they'll actually need for the study.

"We've been told by residents we could do that study for $25,000, but we need to make sure that's really the case," he said. "The actual figure has not been finalized."

But some residents want to make sure that one location for the police department is taken completely off the table, and have submitted a petitioned warrant article to demolish the former police station known locally as Building No. 2.

Building No. 2 was also home to the School Administrative Unit, but a leaking roof that wasn't promptly fixed by the town led to ongoing mold problems. The SAU moved out of the building, and when police officers began complaining of getting ill from the mold, the department was relocated across the street.

Two attempts to remedy the mold situation, including a volunteer effort by people in town, failed to succeed in mitigating the mold and health concerns, and the police department under former chief Garrett Chamberlain refused to move back into the building.

Lawrence said the building became a source of bad blood in town and last March voters refused to sink $130,000 into further renovations and remediation work after already spending nearly $200,000.

The option the petitioners have put on the table is to raze the building, but Lawrence said that's tricky because the building supplies water to the highway garage located behind Building No. 2, which also houses equipment and supplies, including the main backup generator that runs town hall and the highway garage.

"All of these things need to be considered before we tear the building down," said Lawrence.

The estimated cost of the demolition, around $46,000, has been included in the petitioned warrant article which will be voted on in March.



nfoster@newstote.com


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