Police station vote pushed to Spring 2017

Jun 15, 2016

Voters won't weigh in on the future of the Dartmouth Police Department headquarters until April of next year.

After a proposed $8.6 million renovation to the 249 Russells Mills Road police station failed at the ballot in April, town officials had hoped a new plan for the station could be presented to voters at Town Meeting in June and put on the November election ballot for a vote. However, Acting Police Chief Robert Szala requested that the town hold off on presenting a new project.

“It was decided that November was going to get here quick and we didn’t want to rush this project,” Szala said during a recent Select Board meeting.

Officials have expressed concern that the renovation—which would have been funded through a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion property tax increasewas voted down due to a lack of public understanding about the project and the police department's current situation.

The department has operated out of a modular building on the Russells Mills Road property since early 2014, after mold and bacterium legionella—a fresh-water bacteria causing respiratory disease—in the hot water system made an officer sick.

The police station receives an average of 25,000 calls every year, Szala said, and the temporary modular building simply isn't able to handle that amount of activity.

The chief said he is working to ensure the public is fully informed about the trailers that currently house police operations, and has started posting video tours and updates on the department's Facebook page in an effort to increase awareness.