STOCKBRIDGE -- The Town offices, focal point for local government, the police station and community activities, will be sealed off from Friday through Monday because of an environmental project.
But, thanks to mutual aid from the Pittsfield Police Department and the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, essential public safety services will be maintained through a mobile command center that was installed outside the building at 50 Main St., said Police Chief Robert N. Eaton.
All other activities in the building, formerly the Stockbridge Plain School before its $6.3 million renovation completed in 2008, will be suspended for the four-day period so any fumes from an insulation upgrade in the gymnasium can dissipate, according to Town Adminis-
trator Jorja Ann Marsden. The building shutdown also will accommodate other necessary maintenance work, she added.
Although town government offices are closed on weekends as well as Monday, the Patriots Day state holiday, Marsden noted that exercise classes and support groups meet at the building's community center and senior center. There will be no office hours, meetings or other activities inside the building during the four-day period.
"The building needs to be closed when the insulation is being installed because of the fumes it generates," Eaton explained. "That's why we're using Pittsfield's mobile command communications center."
"We'll be equipping it over the next couple of days to make sure that our technology, our computer system, our phone lines are all working properly," the police chief explained. Although the officers are on the road much of the time, he added, they will be able to use the mobile command center whenever necessary. The unit will be connected to the building's electrical power supply.
Two mobile centers are available in Berkshire County, Eaton said -- one at the Sheriff's Office and the other at the Pittsfield Police Department. By arrangement with Police Chief Michael Wynn, the Stockbridge department will be borrowing the Pittsfield unit.
"It's going to fit our needs," Eaton pointed out, "so we'll be able to continue normal operations through that command center." If the fumes have dissipated by late Saturday afternoon, as expected, the police officers will be able to return to their headquarters while the rest of the building remains closed until Tuesday morning, he noted. Otherwise, the mobile unit will continue to be used as long as necessary.
Mobile command centers are familiar territory for Eaton, formerly a captain in the Smithfield, R.I., police department, where he was responsible for purchasing a multiagency unit for the town.
Pittsfield's loan reflects not only a mutual aid agreement but also "the positive collaboration we've had in Berkshire County in every aspect, from municipal to the state and the district attorney's office," Eaton said.
The new chief, who began work on Feb. 3, three weeks ahead of longtime Chief Rick Wilcox's retirement, noted that the cooperation from other agencies have included not only major events such as the March 10 robbery of the Lee Bank branch in Stockbridge but also routine traffic stops. "It's at every level in our daily functions," he emphasized.
"There has been very good collaboration, mutual aid and communication among police chiefs," said Eaton. "It's very impressive."
To contact Clarence Fanto:
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On Twitter: @BE_cfanto