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Gilford to again consider police station revamp

Union Leader Correspondent

January 14. 2014 9:31PM

GILFORD — For the third time in the past eight years, voters will be asked at town elections in March to approve a police department building renovation and addition plan.

The proposed $1.2 plan is “honed down” from past plans, said police Lt. Kris Kelley, but will fit the police department’s needs. The existing police station is outdated, he said, sitting at one end of the town office building.

“The police facility we have now was designed as space for the police 25 years ago, not to meet the needs of police work today,” Kelley said.

There are deficiencies in the police section of building at present, including safety and building codes that renovation would fix, said Town Administrator Scott Dunn, but the big problem is space.

“They are bursting at the seams,” Dunn said.

The proposal, which unanimously passed the budget committee last week, calls for a 6,400-square-foot addition to the station that would bring its size to 10,500 square feet.

Among the renovations planned are a new garage and sally port for prisoners, as well as two new holding cells and a new booking room.“As it is now, we have to walk through the booking room to get to other parts of the station, and we have two cells, but one is used to hold firearms,” Kelley said. “We just don’t have enough space.”

There would also be a new training room for police as part of a new emergency operations center, which could be used in times of crisis or a major police operation, and could serve as a call-in center for residents during an emergency, he said.

The town tried to enlarge and improve the police department twice before but failed to get voter approval. In 2006, a proposal for a new standalone station with a cost of about $2 million failed.

In 2009, a proposal for renovations and an addition with a price of $1.58 million failed to get the required 60 percent approval, Dunn said. Town officials hope they will get approval at the town’s deliberative session on Feb. 5 and when residents vote on March 11. “We had 59 percent of the vote then,” he said. “This is a scaled-down version of that plan.”

“This plan has been honed-down. It’s nothing beyond what the town needs,” Kelley said.

Public Safety Politics Gilford

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