PLAISTOW — Selectmen look ready to spend $25,000 on a preliminary engineering and architectural study for a new standalone police station.
The issue was brought forward at the most recent meeting of the Board of Selectmen meeting, with a general consensus among board members that they supported the use of public safety impact fees to conduct the study. However, because of some confusion as to whether the public hearing was listed as canceled on the town's website, the board voted to continue the public hearing to its Monday, Dec. 30 meeting.
The police and fire departments are currently housed at the Fitzgerald Safety Complex on Elm Street. The engineering study would look at the needs of the fire department and use of the existing building in addition to the possible construction of a new police station near the safety complex, according to Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald.
The safety and space issues have been a concern for town officials for the better part of a decade.
"The existing facility does not have enough space to meet the current and future needs of the department," said Fitzgerald.
The engineering study will help the town if it decides to move forward with a request for a new police station and renovations to the existing facility, he added.
"This will give us the chance to come back to the public with hard numbers and cost estimates that will allow us to make an informed decision on the project scope and the needs for public safety that Plaistow has today and into the future," said Fitzgerald.
The impact fees the town will use to pay for the study are collected from developers and are not drawn from town property taxes.
Selectman Dan Poliquin said he supports the use of the impact fees for the study.
"We can't meet accreditation for the police department the way it is," he said. "Our cells are outdated, and everything else is outdated. There's not enough elbow room and we can't process prisoners."
He said the possibility of expanding on the existing structure is not a reality.
"We can't go up and we can't go out," he said.
Selectmen Chairman Robert Gray agreed that the current police facility is outdated and too small.
"There is not one room in there that is adequate from a working or accreditation standpoint," he said.
The engineering study will give the town the information it needs to make sure any future projects are done in the most affordable way possible, Gray said.
"We can manage this in a way so we don't see a huge spike in taxes," he said.
Provided selectmen do approve the engineering study, Fitzgerald said he would meet with the board again along with the police and fire chiefs to go over what would be expected from the study before requesting proposals from design firstname.lastname@example.org