Public safety building search narrowed to two sites

Aug 22, 2022

The Public Safety Complex Study Committee, tasked with finding a new home for several public safety services, has taken another step toward deciding the future of the new police station.

After months of meetings and analyses, the committee voted on Monday to focus its search on two of the nearly dozen site plans for a new police station and, if possible, fire and emergency services.

The site plans detail two options: a police and fire complex in a renovated Decas school building and a police department located in a renovated Town Hall.

The discussion came about two weeks after Town Administrator Derek Sullivan proposed a reshuffling of town agencies in three town-owned properties.

Sullivan’s proposal would see several town departments move to the former Decas school. That would include space for general government offices, a finance wing and an area for residents to visit for beach, transfer station and parking stickers. The shift would also see the Council on Aging, a key area of focus for the committee, move to the one-story Decas facility.

What’s now Town Hall would turn into a new police station under Sullivan’s proposal. The Multi-Service Center then would become a community center, potentially renting out space to tenants like the Head Start educational program.

The public safety complex committee, which has worked for more than a year to identify possible sites for the creation of a new facility, discussed the pros and cons of putting a police station in Town Hall during its Monday afternoon meeting.

Pros, committee members discussed, include the fact that the space fulfills the square footage needs of the police department, and the renovation of the already existing building would likely cut the project’s cost down significantly, members said.

“It does work from a site plan perspective,” Tecton Architects representative Rebecca Hopkins told the committee during the meeting. Tecton was hired by the town to help complete a feasibility study of a public safety facility.

The cons of the proposed site stem mainly from Town Hall’s location: There’s little room for future expansion, the proposed site plan leaves no room for EMS or fire services and the parking lots could get busy during school drop-off/pick-up time, committee members discussed.

Some of those problems could be remedied by using nearby land to build other parking areas or wings onto Town Hall, but that would further add to costs.

The committee voted to narrow its search from about 10 different site plans down to two after a long discussion on the benefits and costs of both plans.

When committee members asked Police Chief Walter Correia to share his thoughts on the Town Hall proposition, he said that the fiscal responsibility of the idea “has Wareham written all over it.”