WILLIAMSTOWN -- Looks like the police department will need a building about 30 percent larger than anticipated -- for an estimated cost of about $6.5 million.
At a meeting of the town's Public Safety Building Study Committee, a consultant's assessment of the building needs of the police department was similar to a report conducted by Police Chief Kyle Johnson about two years ago.
The consultant's report came to 11,375 square feet -- about 2,900 square feet larger than the chief's -- because it accounted for space taken up by walls and other structural fixtures; the chief's did not.
The town is looking for ways to expand its police station, which currently occupies about 3,480 square feet through three floors in a section of town hall. The town's volunteer firefighters also have been struggling with cramped quarters for years.
In December, the committee toured six sites with John MacMillan, an architectural/engineering consultant from Reinhardt Associates. Of the sites toured, six emerged as possible sites for either a police station, a fire station, or a joint facility.
Those sites were: a former bank building at 296 Main St., a vacant lot at 311 Main St., a vacant residential parcel at 62 Main St. (referred to as the Lehovec property), 101 North St., 197 Adams Road, next to Williamstown Medical Associates, and the site of the former town garage at 59 Water St.
The sites at 101 North St. and 197 Adams Road are not for sale, the committee was told Monday night, and there was some question as to whether the town would be willing to undertake eminent domain proceedings to acquire them.
Of the others, the 311 Main St. property would only be big enough for a police station. The former town garage property would also only fit a police station. But the town is issuing a developer with an eye to building affordable housing units there.
The committee agreed to seek analysis of the Lehovec parcel and the former bank site to determine if either would be appropriate for a joint police/fire facility. Once determined whether either site would work for a joint building, the discussion will become more focused.
If neither property is big enough for a joint facility, the fire department would again be able to seek voter approval for the Lehovec parcel, a property the fire district unsuccessfully sought approval for purchase twice in 2013. And the town would be free to seek a site for a new police station.
One of the concerns expressed by some was whether a joint facility would be more economical. But if there is no property in Williamstown that is big enough and in the right location for a joint facility, that consideration may become moot.
Another meeting is to be scheduled within two weeks to a month.
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