Wednesday August 15, 2012

EGREMONT -- The town's police department is going big time -- soon, it will have a station to call its own after at least three decades in cramped quarters at Town Hall.

"This means the department no longer will be crammed into two tiny rooms," said Selectwoman and Office Administrator Mary Brazie, a 30-year veteran of town government in Egremont.

As Police Chief Reena Bucknell pointed out on Monday as construction crews worked at the site on Egremont Plain Road (Route 71), even the current location was a big step up from the days when former chief Charles Seiger Jr., had to set aside the basement of his home as the department's office.

"It will be a win-win for the community," said Bucknell, who anticipates being able to move into the new modular building on Town Hall land by the end of this year.

The $415,000 project was approved by Town Meeting voters in May 2011, and is being managed by Creative Building Solutions of Great Barrington following extensive planning by the town's Facilities Committee.

Bucknell noted that at Town Hall, department business was hampered since privacy was lacking and it was difficult to interview members of the public confidentially.

Construction of the new 1,500-square-foot facility, which began with a ground-breaking ceremony on May 3, caps nearly 10 years of planning, she added. Relocation of the department will make room for needed new office space at Town Hall.

"The plans look great and we're all looking forward to the move," said Bucknell, now in her 15th year as chief in Egremont following service in the Lenox Police Department.

Her current force of nine officers -- three full-time -- is on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with help as needed from Great Barrington police, while neighboring towns of Alford and Mount Washington are covered by state police. Egremont plans to hire a 10th officer shortly.

The biggest change since she began as chief, Bucknell said, is that the town is more populated and traffic is heavy as it's a gateway from New York state both on Route 23 and 71.

Drugs and alcohol, domestic disputes and mental-health issues make up the bulk of the cases handled by the department, she added.

"We're helping people solve their issues," she said.

Each day of work is "fascinating, and I've learned a lot with help from many people," especially her fellow officers, she said.

Linda Shafiroff of Creative Building Solutions is managing the project. Site preparation is by Wilkinson & Sons Excavating of Sheffield, while Triumph Modular of Littleton is providing the structure.

Heat and water equipment is to be installed by Gennari Plumbing and Heating of Great Barrington. Superior Walls of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is handling foundation work.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6247.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto