Public reacts to proposed police station plans at Wednesday night meeting

  • The Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a public meeting on Wednesday to share the designs for the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    The Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a public meeting on Wednesday to share the designs for the proposed police station.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

  • The Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a public meeting on Wednesday to share the designs for the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    The Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a public meeting on Wednesday to share the designs for the proposed police station.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

  • The Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a public meeting on Wednesday to share the designs for the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    The Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a public meeting on Wednesday to share the designs for the proposed police station.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

  • The Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a public meeting on Wednesday to share the designs for the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • The Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a public meeting on Wednesday to share the designs for the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • The Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a public meeting on Wednesday to share the designs for the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

ANTRIM — Community members expressed mixed reactions Wednesday night at the Town Hall, as the Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation shared design plans for a proposed new police station.

Pending a vote at the March Town Meeting , construction for the new police station on Main Street would begin this spring on the lot directly in front of the post office, according to Bread Loaf’s proposed plan.

Bread Loaf’s lead architect on the project Christopher Huston said at the meeting Wednesday night that the location of the new building would reflect its importance in the town. The space in front of the post office was purchased by the town of Antrim in June . Antrim Police Chief Scott Lester said Wednesday night that he has heard an overwhelming interest in having the police station remain on Main Street. The Police Department is currently housed in the Town Hall.

Bread Loaf was hired by the town after a contract with Baybutt Contsruction, located in Keene, was terminated, citing the company’s financial issues as the reason for severing the ties. The state of Vermont terminated several contracts with Baybutt just weeks before the town of Antrim did so because the company could not pay its contract managers.

Since then, Bread Loaf has worked with Lester and the town to come up with new floor plans. The town hasn’t paid Bread Loaf yet, but owes the company $6,800 for its part in designing the floor plans. Stearns said in a phone interview Monday that the town was prepared to pay up to $44,000 to Baybutt for its services, but only paid approximately $36,000 for the work the company had completed. The $6,800 is part of the $44,000 allocated for phase one of the project.

There are two phases to this project, and Baybutt nearly completed phase one before the contract was terminated. Phase one included designing original floor plans. Phase two is the construction, which would commence this spring if voters agree to the plan.

Huston said at the meeting that Baybutt’s original design was taken into account, but modifications were made so that it is all Bread Loaf’s work. The major change is the elimination of the basement, which Huston said cut about 2,500 square feet from the overall design. The proposed station, as designed by Bread Loaf, is a one-story facility that will total 5,385 square feet. Huston added that eliminating the basement maximizes the efficiency of a one-story building, and that a basement could be subject to moisture.

One Antrim resident, who did not state her name, brought attention to the financial burden the proposed station would impose, how it would raise already high taxes. Town Administrator Galen Stearns said that the financial aspects of the station would be discussed at the budget hearing, which is scheduled for Feb. 18. Right now, the town is in negotiations with Bread Loaf for the cost of phase two of the project, which includes construction. A rough estimate for construction is $1.6 million, according to Stearns.

Janet McEwen, a resident of Antrim, said in a phone interview Monday that she wished more people from had showed up for the meeting, since it’s their responsibility to know what they are voting for.

McEwen wrote in an email Sunday that she fully supports the need for a new police station, but wondered whether the town had looked into preexisting buildings that could be viable alternatives. “Have they aggressively looked at the best valued options to control cost?” McEwen wrote. “Existing structures are available in town. With modification, I am sure they could be used for less than $1.6 million.”

Stearns said for the past five or six years the town has looked into many different options, including an empty mill building on Main Street. “Keep in mind we’re designing this building for the next 25 years at least, probably more,” he said.

The design for the new station includes a carport, located on the east side (facing the post office), which would shelter the cruisers from weather. The proposed design also includes both men’s and women’s locker rooms. McEwen asked on Wednesday if a five-person, full-time police staff that does not currently include a female officer needs two full locker rooms. “In this economic environment, is this necessary for the town?” McEwen said.

The current station is under 1,000 square feet and does not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act. When the town offices are closed, the police station does not have a wheelchair-accessible entrance. The proposed police station will on a permanent basis and meets ADA standards.

Currently, ammunition is stored underneath the fingerprinting station, which is located in the staff kitchen.

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