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New Ipswich proposes $1.2 for police department renovation and addition

  • In March, New Ipswich residents will vote on a proposal to puchase the police department building and renovate and put on an addition for more space for the department. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • In March, New Ipswich residents will vote on a proposal to puchase the police department building and renovate and put on an addition for more space for the department. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 09, 2019 10:38AM

New Ipswich officials plans to ask voters to spend $1.2 million at March Town Meeting in order to purchase and renovate its current police department building.

The New Ipswich Police Department, located on Turnpike Road, across the street from the town offices, is currently leased by the department. It shares the building with two other tenants.

The building and land is currently for sale, and has been on the market for several years. With no other immediate alternatives for housing the police department if it were sold for some other use, this isn’t the first time the Select Board has discussed purchasing the building. This is, however, the first time the proposal will be brought to a public vote.

Tuesday at 6:15 p.m., immediately before the town’s public hearing on the budget, Selectmen plan to hold a bond hearing for the purchase and renovation of the police department.

Though the entire project is estimated to cost $1.2 million, the town would only bond $700,000, with the remaining $500,000 to come from the town’s undesignated fund balance, New Ipswich Town Administrator Carlotta Pini said in an interview Tuesday.

Selectmen have not made a decision about the length of the bond, but said it would likely more than 10 years, but less than 20 years.

Based on estimates from the Municipal Bond Bank, Pini said a 10-year bond with an interest rate of 3.5 percent would require a first-year payment of $97,000, and have about a 25 cent impact on the tax rate.

A 20-year bond, at 4 percent interest, would require a first-year payment of $66,000, which would have an impact of 17 cents on the tax rate.

The need for a new police department

Since the town moved its police department from Building No. 2, behind the town offices, due to mold issues, the town has off and on discussed possible permanent accommodations for the department.

Most recently, in 2017, the town voted on a warrant article to raise $1.98 million – $1.68 million from bonds and $300,000 from unassigned fund balance – to build a police building on the site of Building No. 2. The town voted down that proposal 256-557.

Select Board Chairman David Lage said the department is too small for the town’s needs, and was originally an office building without some of the features needed for a fully-functional department.

If the town purchased the building, it would expand into office space currently used by the other two rental spaces, as well as add a 2,000 square foot addition. The addition would include space for a prisoner booking and holding area and a conference room, as well as a secured entrance.

“The entire building would become the police department,” Lage said.

The building and land, as well as an adjacent lot, has been offered for the purchase price of $395,000. The town doesn’t have a plan for the adjacent lot, Lage said, but owning it would “give the town future possibilities” for other municipal needs.

Several New Ipswich residents and business owners said they would support a larger space for the department.

Carolyn Boynton of New Ipswich, the owner of Turnpike Crossing, said she’d like to see a larger police force in general, and overnight police coverage of the town. She supported the town owning the police department building, and having the room to eventually grow the force.

“If they’re going to improve anything, improve that,” she said. “We’re for it. That’s what taxes are for, aren’t they? Police and schools.”

Brett Stauffeneker of New Ipswich, who owns Fade Away Barbershop, agreed.

“I’d probably vote yes,” he said, of the proposal for the department renovations. “I think you’d want a bigger police department.”

Thom Romanello of New Ipswich, said he’d been inside the department as part of the vetting process for volunteering. “It is way too small, he said. They do need more room.”

New Ipswich will hold a bond hearing on the police department renovation bond on Jan. 15 at 6:15 p.m. at the town offices. The bond hearing will be followed immediately by a public hearing on the proposed budget and articles as they will appear on the town’s warrant in March.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.