Peterborough Municipal Campus Task Force chooses design for public safety campus

  • Preliminary 3-D rendering of the building plan chosen for the municipal campus by the Municipal Campus Task Force, presented by Janet Slemenda.  —Julia Stinneford

  • Preliminary map of the building plan chosen for the new municipal campus by the Municipal Campus Task Force, presented by Janet Slemenda. —Julia Stinneford

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/10/2022 11:48:43 AM
Modified: 1/10/2022 11:47:51 AM

The new Peterborough fire station and public safety campus on Elm Street would be a long, two-story building to the south of the existing Community Center, based on a preliminary design approved by the Municipal Campus Task Force Thursday night. 

“That is helpful for us because now we can really focus much more clearly on what it is we’re going to show you,” said Janet Slemenda, principal at HKT Architects and liaison for this project. 

Slemenda presented three options to the task force for what the campus could look like based on early-stage designs from the architecture firm. All of the options situated the new building to the south of the Community Center, and the plans all contained the same elements for the work and daily operation of the fire station and attached police station, such as the apparatus bays, bunk rooms, training areas and storage for equipment.

Many other of the elements of the design remained similar between the options, including the general orientation of the building and the inclusion of two floors. 

The option the task force chose has separate roadways and parking lots from the Community Center, something that Fire Department members in attendance said would be helpful for ensuring safety in the area. The plan also has the apparatus bays for the fire department directly facing Elm Street, making for easier egress during emergencies. Five of the seven bays will be pull- through bays. The plan also includes upgrades to parking for the Community Center, as well as a new event space in the front of the building. 

Fire Chief Ed Walker and other members of the department who were in attendance expressed their appreciation for those elements of the design. One of the other proposed options would have had the department’s vehicles making two turns before reaching the road, which department members agreed might make their work challenging, and another of the designs had the building flush against the road. 

Slemenda explained that due to the limitations of the building site, such as the need to ensure good methods of entrance and exit, not interfering with the existing Department of Public Works and Community Center spaces and the wetlands in the area, the municipal campus design would have the fire and police departments in the same building.

“A joint public safety facility in this case is more efficient in the end, from a square footage basis and from a cost basis,” she said. 

However, the project ahead is to build only the fire station, while also doing the site work to potentially add the police station to the building in the future. If and when that addition does occur, it would be all in one building, and the site work being done alongside the fire station construction would significantly ease the process, according to Walker and Slemenda.

“The consideration with the campus approach was making sure we did not eliminate the ability to do that in the future,” said Walker. “We realized early on that in situating the fire station on Elm Street, adjacent to the Community Center and adjacent to where the DPW garage and facilities are, we really need to take a campus approach and maximize the use of that space.”

All members of the task force who were in attendance were agreed on the option that was selected, as well as another big decision related to the shape of the building’s roof. Slemenda presented the options of either a flat or pitched roof, and the consensus was for a flat roof, in order to match the Community Center next door, ensure that the building did not tower over its neighbors and leave open the potential for solar panels or another type of green space on the roof. 

This choice had the added benefit of being cheaper, according to Slemenda. 

“That alone is going to save money, so you already kind of saved money by that decision,” she said. 

According to Slemenda, next up is to work with architects to go more in-depth on the design, including working on options for materials to use on the building’s facade. Once more of these elements have been discussed, she said HKT can work on a cost estimate to present to the community.

Walker said the next big steps for the task force will involve educating the public on the choice that was made and what the rest of the project will look like. 

“We will work with our groups to get this out, and get this chatter, and get some enthusiasm on it,” he said. 

An important element of that education is clarifying that not all of the work being done is specifically for the Fire Department, Walker said.

“The total cost of this project is not the cost to replace the fire station,” he said. “It’s the cost to replace the fire station, and create a campus that meets additional needs of the Community Center, the DPW, for now and in the future.”

The fire and police department budgets will be under discussion at the Select Board meeting Jan. 18, but a cost estimate for the municipal campus project will not be available by that time. The deadline for an estimate is March 1, the date of the public hearing on the town’s budget. 


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