Town Meeting voters approve next steps for police station

Oct 19, 2016

Town Meeting voters on Tuesday OK'd the use of $215,000 to pay for a study and design of a new Dartmouth Police station.

Department officials aim to have a design and price tag ready for voters to approve at the town's annual election in April.

“We’re looking to kick this into gear so we can be ready for next spring,” said Project Manager Richard Pomroy.

Although the top-choice location is currently the Gidley School property on Tucker Road — voters also approved the $785,000-demolition of the old school for health-related reasons — Police Chief Robert Szala and the advisory committee charged with coming up for a solution for the station plan to perform geotechnical and site investigations on several properties.

“We have included costs to look into additional sites,” said Pomroy.

Pomroy and Police Chief Robert Szala explained that an ideal location would be closer to the "high-call" zone, bordered by Route 6, Allen Street, Slocum Road, and Old Westport Road.

The department's current station, a 21,000-square-foot facility on Russells Mills Road was shuttered after bacteria in the water supply made an officer sick in early 2014. Since then, the department has operated out of a temporary, modular building in the back of the property.

Finance Committee Chair David Tatelbaum insisted that the current 7,200 square-foot trailer space that the department works in is not appropriate.

“The police do not deserve to be in that facility any longer than they have to,” he said.

Though ultimately approved, voters had questions about the $215,000 cost of the study and the need for an architect.

“Are we building a Taj Mahal?" asked Arthur Gerard of Precinct 2, adding that a Google search easily provided design plans from the new Mattapoisett police station. "Why do we need an architect?”

In supporting Szala's request for a station that would allow a 20-percent growth and meet the town’s needs for the next 50-60 years, Town Administrator David Cressman noted: “In terms of population, Mattapoisett is one-third the size of Dartmouth."

Precinct No. 2’s Robert Michaud, who also serves on the advisory committee, promised voters that there will be plenty of available information surrounding the project.

“You will not be left in the dark until next April,” he said.

The presenters added that landowners who are interested in selling or gifting land to the town may submit applications until November 1 at 2 p.m., and those interested can request an application from Cressman.

Voters also approved the $141,634-request for police vehicle replacements, including four new cruisers and two unmarked administrative vehicles.