LANESBOROUGH — Town officials are suffering from “sticker shock” after learning that a new police station could cost nearly double a price they anticipated.
Project architect Brian Humes on Tuesday night informed the Lanesborough Select Board that a cost estimator pegged the bottom line at $4.3 million. Several town officials in attendance said figures of $2 million to $3 million had been tossed about as the building’s design was being drawn up.
“It’s sticker shock,” said Select Board member Michael Murphy.
Board Chairman John Goerlach says the estimate reflects a bidding climate that favors builders.
“Contractors are overcharging. There is so much work out there,” he said.
If approved by town meeting voters, the proposed law enforcement headquarters would front Bill Laston Memorial Park on North Main Street (Route 7). The Select Board plans to hold at least two informational meetings before a special town meeting is called, likely by year’s end.
If built, the 4,680-square-foot building would sit on 2.25 acres of town property at the recreational area municipal complex.
The proposed police headquarters would feature around-the-clock public access to an on-duty police officer. A room for police training could double as a community room, and officers would have significantly more space to do their job — such as meet with witnesses and crime victims, as well as interrogate and book suspects. A separate entrance with a carport would be used to bring detainees to the station.
The park site was chosen over building anew at the 600-square-foot police station’s current location, a mile south from the park. The police station locale was deemed too small to handle the project and was one of several town-owned and private properties town officials had considered for a new station.
Humes admitted that the cost estimate of the new station, especially for the site preparation, was higher than he expected. He said the cost estimator figured that $800,000 would be needed to install drainage, as well and a septic system, along with other site-preparation work. Humes thought $500,000 was a more realistic number.
He noted that, with the remaining ancillary expenses, the building construction is estimated at $2,645,000.
While the town needs to be cost-conscious, Murphy, after touring the existing cramped police station, says it is imperative that the town build a new one.
“I’m embarrassed our Police Department has to work in those conditions. They should have been out of that building yesterday,” he said.
Since May 2019, the town has been exploring options to build a new police station or renovate the existing one at Prospect and North Main streets. Original efforts to renovate the aging, cramped building began in 2015, led by former Selectman Robert Ericson. But, that effort got bogged down and lacked the necessary permits to continue, prompting the board to halt the work on the structure.
Soon after, the board launched a police station needs and cost-assessment study and hired Humes, of Jacunski Humes Architects out of Berlin, Conn.
An ad hoc advisory committee had recommended that the new station be 4,700 square feet, which would include a community/training room and other space.