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Some say new police digs for Antrim too costly

  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing open to the public on Monday at Town Hall to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing open to the public on Monday at Town Hall to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing open to the public on Monday at Town Hall to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing open to the public on Monday at Town Hall to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing open to the public on Monday at Town Hall to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing open to the public on Monday at Town Hall to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing open to the public on Monday at Town Hall to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing open to the public on Monday at Town Hall to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station Monday night at Town Hall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • The town of Antrim, Antrim Police Department and Bread Loaf Corporation held a bond hearing open to the public on Monday at Town Hall to discuss the financial aspect of the proposed police station.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

ANTRIM — Residents expressed mixed reviews for a proposed new police station that would cost the town nearly $1.7 million.

A number of residents voiced support for the project at Monday night’s bond hearing at Town Hall, but a few worried that the cost is more than taxpayers can afford. If voters approve the warrant article — which calls for an appropriation of $1,675,000 for constructing and equipping a new police station on land purchased in front of the post office last year — at Town Meeting, construction plans would begin the following week. The police station is currently housed in the Town Hall.

The project is being headed by Bread Loaf Corporation, a company located in Middlebury, Vt., in conjunction with the Antrim Police Department and the town.

On Monday, Bread Loaf architect Christopher Huston said the total project budget is $1,579,666 with all costs included. The town paid Bread Loaf $6,800 for phase one of the project, which included floor plans and informational public meetings.

Originally the project was headed by Baybutt Construction Corporation in Keene, but Antrim town officials terminated its contract with Baybutt after learning of the company’s financial issues. Antrim had already paid Baybutt $36,000 for its services.

According to Town Administrator Galen Stearns, there will be no further costs until the project is voted on at Town Meeting.

Residents who are not in support of building a new police station say rising property taxes are a deal breaker.

“Maggie Hassan’s budget requires a 10 percent increase, and very little of that, if any, will go to the towns,” Antrim resident Kat Affholter wrote in an email to the Ledger-Transcript on Tuesday. “Federal government grants are drying up, which means that the costs of things will fall more on the towns, which means more money out of our pockets.”

Stearns said Monday night that approving the construction would not increase Antrim’s tax rate. That’s because in 2014, the town will retire two bonds — a fire truck bond and a highway bond — that will cancel out the increase. “The fact is the costs for the station will never go down,” Stearns said on Monday night. “They can only go up over time, so now is the time to do it.”

Affholter said she and her adopted father, John Redman, have placed signs outside their home to gather support for voting down the police station. One sign outside of their North Main Street home on the corner of Elm Street that they have lived in since November states that the cost per call for police services would be $3,367 with the new police station . The current cost, the sign reads, is $655 per call.

Affholter said she took the police budget from 2012 and divided it by the number of calls made to get the $655 per call. The 2012 budget was $447,956.

Antrim Police Chief Scott Lester said in a phone interview Wednesday he does not know how the $3,367 number was generated. Affholter asked for the total number of reported incidents in 2012, which Lester said he provided. “If they took the total number of incidents and divided it by the total [police] budget, that’s probably how they came up with it,” Lester said.

He added that the Police Department does a lot more than respond to incidents, some that don’t necessarily generate crime numbers.

In an interview Wednesday, Stearns disagreed with the information on the sign, saying that the $655 per call is not a true representation of what the department provides for service.

Affholter wrote in a statement provided to the Ledger-Transcript that the incident report numbers for 2012 for crimes in Antrim, 569 to be exact, are not enough to support a full-time staff of five officers, and that there is not enough serious crime to justify a new police station. At the moment, the Antrim police staff consists of five full-time officers and four part-time members.

“We go by what the community asks us to do,” Lester said at the bond hearing Monday. “What may not be a big crime to one person may be very big to another.”

At Monday’s hearing, Antrim resident Stephen Ullman said he is in support of building a new police station, largely for space and safety reasons. He said on Monday night that pictures of the inside of the current police station posted on the town’s website make the station look spacious, when in actuality there isn’t much room at all. He added that the small space could potentially be dangerous for officers. “The thought that an officer could be alone in the current station with a detainee is beyond belief,” he said.

Debbie Eaves said she is in support of building a new police station because, not only will it give the current officers more space, but also the town administration as well. “They need their space, and [the new location] is central,” Eaves said in an interview Tuesday night. “It would give the Town Hall more room for their offices and use for the place, and all the other things in town.”

In a phone interview Wednesday, Stearns said there hasn’t been a lot of thought yet regarding what would go into the current police station’s space in Town Hall, if vacated. The potential is always there to use the space as archive and record storage, he said. The town offices could also expand.

If the new station were built , there would be potential for future expansion on the south side of the building, Huston said on Monday . However, Stearns said he expects the new station to last for at least 25 years, and probably more.

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