LANESBOROUGH — The Select Board has picked two town-owned properties as the top locations for a new police station.
The three-member board this week narrowed the list down to two: the current headquarters site and property fronting Laston Park.
A third site, a vacant, 22-acre parcel across from a convenience store next to the Town Hall, could be in the mix if the other two don’t fit the bill. But an assessment of that property has concluded that wetlands and the topography would add to the expense of development.
All three are within a mile of each other along North Main Street (Route 8). The board plans to forward to town meeting voters for their consideration either the current police station one-acre lot or the 2.25-acre Laston Park location.
The town has been exploring since May 2019 options to build a new police station or renovate the existing one at the corner of Prospect and North Main streets. Original efforts to renovate the aging, cramped building began in 2015, led by former Selectman Robert Ericson. However, that effort got bogged down and lacked the necessary permits to continue, prompting the board to halt the work on the 600-square-foot structure.
The board soon after launched a police station needs and cost assessment study and hired architect Brian Humes of Jacunski Humes Architects out of Berlin, Conn.
An ad hoc advisory committee has recommended the new station be 4,700 square feet, which would include a community/training room and other space. But board Chairman John Goerlach said 3,400 square feet would be adequate.
“I think we need to build what we can afford,” he said at the board’s Monday meeting. “I know the meeting room is a waste of space for what we already have for meetings: Town Hall and such, the school.”
He favors the current site, which he said better serves the town because it is centrally located.
Board members Michael Murphy and Gordon Hubbard prefer to stick with the larger plan. Hubbard said he is concerned about “violating” the advisory committee’s recommendation.
“I hate to lose the efficiency of the Police Department and have it become a car with a missing wheel,” he said.
Cutting the project back “makes no sense to me,” Murphy added.
“I think we’re doing a disservice to the Police Department as well as the community,” he said. “This has gone on way too long. I just advocate to look at what we need, making a decision and pull the trigger to build a new police station for the community as well as the officers who serve the community.”
The Select Board had discussed several privately owned sites as potential police station locations, such as the vacant Vacation Village and a parcel at the Skyline Country Club. All three selectmen agreed building on town property is the best bet.
“It seems easier to work with property we already own than one we have to acquire,” Goerlach said.