Final plans approved for veterans' housing at former police barracks

Jul 22, 2015

Eight years in the making, a plan to convert the former State Police barracks on Route 6 to low-income housing for veterans cleared one of its final hurdles Tuesday night.

With only minor modifications, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved plans for the nine-unit project.

“It’s exciting,” said Dartmouth Housing Authority Executive Director Connie Desbiens. “It really is exciting.”

Desbiens said the final step is to close on the funding, which will come from a variety of sources, including the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Community Preservation Act funds previously approved at Town Meeting.

She said the building plans required a final approval from the Zoning Board, and that the project had already gone before several other boards and committees in town.

The project is projected to cost close to $2.6 million, with DHCD providing a majority of the funding.

Community Preservation funds come from a 3 percent surcharge levied on residential property above the first $100,000 of assessed property. The state partially matches the locally-raised funds, which must be used for historic preservation, affordable housing, preservation of open space or recreation.

The group secured what will be known as the O’Connor-Sisson House in May of 2012, and funding was approved in January of this year.

The project got its start when the Division of Capital Assets Management (DCAM), who had taken ownership of the building when the State Police left it vacant in 2006, approached the Dartmouth Housing Authority about the available location.

Desbiens said that William O’Connor, the chairman at the time of the Dartmouth Housing Authority, was an advocate for veterans, and he had a dream of bringing veteran housing to town. Unfortunately, O’Connor passed away while the process was still underway, so Charlie Sisson, the next chairman of the authority, took over.

“Charlie picked it up and continued with his dream,” said Desbiens.

About a year later, Sisson, too, passed away, but those involved with the Housing Authority followed through with the project.

She said there’s a lot of structural work to be done to the interior of the building. A two-story addition will be done to the north side of the building.

“The contractor’s already on board,” added Robert Smith, the architect representing Partners in Housing L.L.C., a non-profit organization working alongside the Housing Authority. “We should be ready to get going in August.”

Desbiens said the building could see residents by February or March of 2016 if construction goes according to plan.

“This is a wonderful thing that is finally coming to fruition,” said Zoning Board Chair Jacqueline Figueiredo. “Everybody will be happy to see the old State Police Barracks turned into something useful. That’s a wonderful thing for our community.”