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February 20. 2013 10:35PM

Farmington police, fire officials encourage public input on plan for facilities

FARMINGTON - Police continue their efforts to find new ways to connect with residents and hope to encourage an ongoing conversation about the future of public safety facilities in town.

The next community forum will be held Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the lower level community room in the town hall at 531 Main St.

After eight residents attended the first forum in December, Police Chief Kevin Willey said he decided to continue to hold them quarterly when he took on the role of chief.

He added residents have a variety of ways to interact with police, but some people still prefer meeting face-to-face.

"It allows a two-way conversation between police and the community," Willey said, adding that police use phones, email and social media as well. Willey said police plan to provide an update on the issues discussed in December, especially their progress in a recent spike of burglaries and ways residents can make their homes more secure.

He said residents may have questions about the budget in preparation for the March town meeting.

Fire Chief Richard Fowler said it's important to have a public discussion about the future of the police and fire stations.

"We're probably even more cramped than police," Fowler said, adding despite having a larger building, firefighters have to special order trucks in order to fit them through the doors. Fowler said the current fire station, which is located along Main Street, was built by volunteers in 1975. As a result, he added the facility needs more than renovations to allow the department to serve the community into the future.

Meanwhile, Willey said the police had to build a cold storage shed at the public work's yard to free up space in their 2,800 square-foot station, which is located behind and beneath the old town hall. While he plans to keep an open mind, Willey said he's looked into facilities used in similar sized communities, including Littleton, which has a 11,000 square-foot public safety building.

He added this is only a guide, as the plan would need to fit the community.

Both Willey and Fowler support the proposal for the selectmen to use money in an existing fund to conduct a feasibility study to weigh options and develop a plan.

Willey said he plans to hold another forum in May or June.


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