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Lanesborough is looking to house its EMS and police force under the same roof. A trip to Barre shows how it can be done

Lanesborough police station exterior (copy)

The Lanesborough Police Station Committee visited Barre to see how a proposed building that would house both the town's police force and EMS would function. 

LANESBOROUGH — What will the Lanesborough police station look like? The answer might be 100 miles away.

On Friday, the town’s Police Station Committee members traveled to Barre in Worcester County to tour the building that hosts the town’s police force and EMS. Since 2019, the committee has been working to find a permanent home for the police department.

Lanesborough Select Board adamant about location for new police station

The building was designed by architect Brian Humes, who is also working with the committee to create an updated Needs Assessment for the combined building in Lanesborough. Committee member Kristen Tool said that bringing together EMS, which is currently in the firefighter station, and the police station could open up more funding opportunities and make coordination between the two organizations easier.

“It takes time to respond to emergencies when people are coming from two different places,” Tool said. “Having them in the same location allows for faster response time, which is better for the community.”

Tool said the visit was useful, as the committee members learned things they could do differently, such as having more shared spaces. The committee will discuss what they had learned in greater length at the next meeting on Sept. 27.

On Aug. 1, the Lanesborough Police Department moved to a temporary location on 545 South Main St. American Rescue Plan funds were used to cover rent for two years, moving costs and some repairs. Tool said most of the furniture was donated.

“Community members and local restaurants organized to donate food and snacks during the first week in the temporary space, and local children created artwork to welcome the officers,” said Tool. “An official welcome event for officers and a community open house will be planned this fall.”

The previous location on 8 Prospect St. was beyond repair and unusable.

“[It was] ruled out due to lack of space, a deed restriction stating the parcel can only be used as a public park and other considerations including storm water runoff, lack of space for parking and [a new] septic tank,” Tool said, adding that it was infested by rodents and mold. The future of the old police station site is undecided.

Town Administrator Josh Lang said that the decision on where the new location for the police station will be has not yet made.

“We’re looking at various locations at this point. There are some negotiations that are currently happening,” he said.

Lang acknowledged the scale of the project has made it a long and complex process. “It’s been a discussion that has happened for many years. I think it’s great that there’s a police building committee that’s able to spend time reviewing this and hopefully deliver information to the public in the most transparent manner possible,” he said. “But anytime that there are large costs involved, that’s obviously going to spark questions.”

Last November, the Select Board presented a $4.3 million facility, leading to pushback from residents for being too expensive. In February, a revised budget of $3.8 million was presented.

Tool said that these numbers were just a projection that will be adjusted when a site and design are finalized.

“But even if it was $4 million, and we didn’t get any grant money, it’s about $100 more a year per household. That’s part of living in a community and paying for the necessary programs,” she said. “You’re not going to have to sell your house.”

Aina de Lapparent Alvarez can be reached at aalvarez@berkshireeagle.com.

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