New Public Safety Building Ready to Call Home
By Patricia Roy
You can take down the “vacancy “ sign at the new Public Safety Building. On March 14, the Police Department moved into its state-of-the-art quarters, joined by fire and police dispatch.
The combined dispatch center is now operational for E-911 calls.
The Fire Department is due to make their move sometime in April when electrical systems for the apparatus bay doors are completed and occupancy is okayed.
The extended delay in getting delivery and installation of the doors has been a headache for the Public Safety Building Committee which has pinned on delivery problems the project contractor and subcontractor.
In the meantime, the Fire Department will continue to operate from the Main and Cedar Street stations. An opening ceremony for the three level, 42,000 square foot building will be scheduled after both departments have moved in.
The town has talked about a new Public Safety Building for decades, but other building projects took priority. A feasibility study commenced in 2008 and by 2018 , the Select Board had appointed a Public Safety Building committee that was charged with site acquisition, design, engineering and construction. That year, annual town meeting voters approved using the gift of land at 12-16 Union Street as the site for the proposed building, favoring the central location, proximity to Ashland High School and a way to forego waits at railroad crossings.
Architects and Owner’s Management were signed on in 2018 as the design and engineering process continued.
Voters at a Special Town Meeting in Jan. 2021 and later, at the ballot box, gave overwhelming support for funding a new building. The project broke ground in March 2021.
The town meeting vote requested $27,400,000 for the building and the building committee anticipates a $25 million grant.
According to Town Manager Michael Herbert, the increase in household taxes will be offset by other capital project debt that is falling off through 2028.
The building is in line with the town’s net-zero carbon energy goal with geothermal HVAC, and a green roof system over the third floor and sally port.
The Public Safety Building has rectified deficiencies such as a lack of facilities for female personnel. It also provides a way for police officers to get detainees safely from the sally port into the building and booking area, then moving them along to cell block.
The first floor also has the main entrance and lobby. Dispatch, records and meeting room are all located off the lobby.
The second floor houses police support areas including a locker room and the firefighters’ living quarters.
There is also room for a firing range for mandated police training, which will eliminate the need for overtime pay for officers who previously needed to train at off-site facilities.