Lanesborough police may relocate amid lagging station overhaul
The Select Board has instructed Police Chief Timothy Sorrell to get prices on leasing a vacant building in town, possibly up to six months, during construction. The directive came Monday night as the board met with Sorrell and several members of the Lanesborough Police Officers Association MassCop, Local 390.
Two properties discussed were a vacant storefront across from the station on Main Street (Route 7) and the empty Vacation Village building further north on Route 7.
Meanwhile, officials need to figure out the final cost of bidding out the unfinished work to a contractor.
"We would have to look to you to find funds," board Chairman John Goerlach told Town Manager Kelli Robbins.
Goerlach said a special town meeting may be necessary to approve final funding for the project, which has up to $29,000 set aside in taxpayer dollars and state grants.
The project began in 2015, with Selectman Robert Ericson donating his time to handle the most of the repairs and upgrades at the police station, saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in labor costs.
The overhaul includes creating new workspace, removal of mold from walls and other surfaces, insulating the heat ductwork, electrical and plumbing upgrades and general repairs. Ericson has done some of the work, minus the plumbing done by a licensed plumber, but much more needs to be done, according to the officers and chief.
After a recent inspection, however, the town's insurer, Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, issued a cease and desist order after it conducted a recent inspection. The insurer wants to determine if all permits and paperwork are in place for the project to continue.
The order validated concerns by police officers that the project has taken too long.
"We appreciate the work, Selectman Ericson, but the job is too big," said Officer John Bishop, speaking on behalf of the police union.
Ericson didn't attend Monday's bimonthly board meeting.
For now, the department can stay put, despite the strenuous objection of Selectman Henry "Hank" Sayers, who raised concerns about the liability of the officers working in an unfit building.
Robbins agreed: "The town is under tremendous liability," he said.
Until the department relocates, Sorrell said he can manage for a few more weeks in the station, which sits atop a hill at the corner of Prospect and Main streets.
"If there is an end in sight, I can suffer through this," he said.
Ultimately, the police and Select Board will look to building a new, modern-day police station, hopefully on town-owned land to keep the talked-about price below $1 million.
"We're throwing good money after bad if we stay up there," Robbins said.
Dick Lindsay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 413-496-6233.
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