New Ipswich Select Board plans public hearing on Police Department renovations

  • STAFF FILE PHOTO BY BEN CONANT

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/22/2022 1:25:57 PM
Modified: 6/22/2022 1:25:37 PM

The New Ipswich Select Board plans to hold a public hearing next month to take input on a possible $50,000 renovation of the existing police station to add a second entrance and holding cells, along with other renovations.

Select Board member Jason Somero presented plans for the potential renovations during the board meeting Tuesday. He said the renovations would resolve immediate needs and pressing life-safety issues in the short term, and make the current station, located in offices on Turnpike Road, more workable for the officers.

The proposal would include moving a bathroom to extend a hallway, building an additional entrance separate from the main entrance used by the public and possibly acquiring two additional rooms next to the department to convert to arrestee processing and holding areas, as well as upgrades such as new flooring.

Somero said the separate entrance has been a pressing issue since the department moved into the space, but other upgrades are also badly needed.

“If anyone is questioning the need for new flooring, please go to the police department. They’ve endured for quite a few years,” Somero said.

Somero said he has been in contact with the owner of the building about the renovation plans, as well as the possibility of acquiring the additional space, but no formal agreement has been reached.

While the town has not received any official estimates on the work, Somero said he has discussed the draft plan with multiple contractors, and received a rough estimate of about $42,500, with a $10,000 contingency.

Somero said the current rental price for the two additional rooms is about $800. It’s not yet known how much the additional space would increase the town’s rent on the space.

Somero said even with an increase, over 10 or 20 years, the cost of renting would still be less than the construction of a new safety facility.

“There is no better bang for the buck than renting,” Somero said. He acknowledged that there was additional security in the town owning its own building, but said even if the town ultimately decides to go that route, a new police department is at least several years down the line, and there are issues in the department that should be addressed now.

“We need this to perform a function. [Police Chief Michael Abel] would like it more functional,” Somero said.

Select Board Chair Shawn Talbot said conversations about the future of the department will still be ongoing.

“A safety complex isn’t necessarily off the table, but we need to do something for the police department,” Talbot said.

The board discussed possible avenues for funding a renovation. One option is to raise the funds in a lump sum through a warrant article in March. Another is a municipal loan, or the project could be financed through monthly payments included in the police department’s rent.

All three board members agreed that no matter what direction the board goes in, they wished for public input on both the plan and the financing options. A public hearing is planned to be held during one of next month’s regular Select Board meetings, with a tentative date of July 19. The hearing will be publicly noticed.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaaariMLT.


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