New Ipswich Selectmen to revisit 2017 police station plan

  • The current New Ipswich Police Department is in rented space on Turnpike Road. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/1/2019 3:08:26 PM

New Ipswich officials are back to favoring a previous police station proposal after Town Meeting voters passed on a plan to purchase and renovate the current police department building.

Selectman John Veeser said the board and police are ready to embark on a “year-long process” of getting voter feedback through information sessions, in hopes voters go to the polls knowing everything about the project.

It will start this month, he said, with mailers sent to every household in town with a short survey, asking if voters would prefer the town construct a stand-alone police department or a safety complex that includes the fire department, with space for feedback or other ideas.

“We’re going to try to give them a say in this,” New Ipswich Police Chief Tim Carpenter said Monday.

Currently, Veeser said, the board is considering putting forth the same proposal for 2020 that voters turned down two years ago, to build a new police facility on town-owned land.

The police station has been located in a rental space on Turnpike Road since 2008. Police moved into to the rental space after the former police station, located behind the town offices, was found to be infected with black mold, which made it an unhealthy work environment. The move was meant to be temporary, but dragged on as attempts to remove the mold failed, and voters eventually were not willing to support any more remediation attempts.

In March, voters turned down a proposed $1.2 million to purchase the police station building and land, renovate the building and put on an addition. The vote was 392 in favor, and 494 against.

It’s the second time in the last few years the town has said no to a new police department, voting down a $1.98 million project in 2017 to tear down the former police station, located behind the town offices, and build a new facility. That vote was 256 in favor, with 557 against.

Veeser said Selectmen are going to revive a 2017 new facility plan, but this time with plenty of public outreach to let people know exactly what the plan entails.

The 2017 plan included the cost of tearing down the former police station, building the new facility and reconfiguring the parking lot to give police their own exit, Veeser said.

“The biggest issue we had a couple of years ago was a lack of information,” Veeser said. “I went to the town meetings, and I was what you would consider an informed voter, and even I didn’t know much about the plan.”

The town already has plans for a stand-alone facility from 2017 which can still be used. Veeser said due to the rising cost of construction, it’s likely the cost will be higher than in 2017.

The current police station is about half the size of the previous department, and has several safety issues, Veeser said.

The department only has one entrance, meaning arrestees are brought through the lobby, where the public may be, and doens’t have a holding area or a space to process juveniles, which by law must be kept separate from other detainees.

“It’s a public safety issue,” Veeser said. “And we still come down to the fact that it’s not our building.”

Carpenter said if the consensus is voters want a stand-alone facility, it would still be prudent to build the station in a way that allows for an addition in the future, to include the fire station.

“We need to look to the future, whether it’s a stand-alone facility or a complex. It makes sense to utilize that property to its fullest,” Carpenter said.

Veeser said the survey is set to be mailed this month, and Selectmen plan to schedule an informational session after allowing time for the responses to be filled out and mailed back.

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


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