Committee considers Minot Ave., Decas School for new police station

Jun 29, 2020

The Public Safety Study Committee, tasked with planning for a potential new police station that would also house the emergency medical service and other public safety agencies, visited two possible locations for the building on Monday. 

The committee was formed before the pandemic, and the town planned to fund the project largely with revenue from marijuana companies. 

Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said that those plans have, of course, changed. However, he said, it makes sense to be ready in case things change and, for instance, federal or state money is available to fund the project.

“It never hurts to plan,” Sullivan said.

The committee visited two potential locations for the facility: a town-owned parcel of land on Minot Avenue and the current Decas School, which will close in 2022 when the new school is complete.

The town-owned land on Minot Avenue is a roughly 26 acre parcel between the Brandy Hill Apartments and the Depot Crossing Apartments. 

The land has many advantages: It is centrally located in town, offering easy access to Main Street and Onset. The land, while not on a hill as steep as at the location of the Minot Forest School, is well out of the floodplain. Archaeologists have already surveyed the site for a past potential project, and deemed it to be of no significance. 

Additionally, the cost of construction for a new building can often be less than renovating an existing building and bringing it up to code. 

The second site the group visited was the John W. Decas School. The building, constructed in 1968 and expanded in 1971, is quite large: nearly 70,000 square feet. 

Another advantage of the Decas School site is the large plot of land, and the relatively new, state-of-the-art boiler system.

The building itself is in relatively good shape, with a high-quality roof and tiled floors throughout. The school was originally completely carpeted. It also has some flexibility in layout, as some of the classrooms can be combined by folding back a portable wall.

“It hasn’t changed much since I went to school here,” said Police Chief John Walcek, who attended the school for fourth and fifth grade.

One drawback of the Decas School site is that it is not centrally located in the town, and EMS would likely need to keep an ambulance somewhere else in town to make sure response times are fast. 

The committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 3, in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room in the Multi Service Center to discuss the site visits.