Police station project gets schedule, new cost estimate

Nov 14, 2017

Bids for the new Dartmouth Police Headquarters could be out by next February as a committee tasked with guiding construction of the new building works to narrow down costs and other specific details.

The new police station, slated for construction in a spot cleared by demolishing the old Gidley School on Tucker Road, was approved by voters in the April town election in the form of a $13.4 million debt exclusion to fund the project. Town Meeting gave the go-ahead to begin construction in the June Town Meeting.

Since then, a new Police Station Construction Committee has been working with the police department, town officials, and architects to fully develop the plans for the 21,800-square foot facility.

Most recently, the committee received a cost estimate from an engineering consultant, which came out about $400,000 over the $13.4 million budget.

To compensate, the committee is now debating ways to save money on the project without sacrificing the value or functionality of the police station, a process known as value engineering.

“It’s not unusual to see this as you go through the design development,” said Town Administrator David Cressman at the meeting. “It’s an opportunity to look at how the project is being developed and what actions you can take to address this.”

Among the cost-saving areas identified includes eliminating a planned circular driveway, which architect Greg Carell noted had other problems with angles and turning radii, using less expensive materials and less extensive masonry in less noticeable and used areas, conduct landscaping work with a local company, and shop for appliances instead of relying on the general contractor to procure them with a markup.

Other cost-saving items on the chopping block officials hope to add back into the project, like granite curbing which is more durable against snow plows, and gates secured with electronic keycards.

The committee was also provided with a draft schedule going forward. The next major step in the process is Planning Board submission of the plans, slated for December.

Since the total project cost is over $10 million, state law requires that general contractors must be pre-qualified before they can bid on a project. Prequalification public notices went out in October, and acceptance notices are anticipated to be sent by February to go out to bid that month. The goal is to have bids for general contractors in by March.

In the meantime, the site is currently ready for the new building, as work was completed to prep the site, according to Carell.

The new police headquarters will replace the Dartmouth Police Department’s current station, housed in a modular unit on the 247 Russells Mills Road property. The main building was shuttered after dangerous bacteria was discovered in the water supply.

The current proposal is the second attempt to bring the police department out of its current working situation in the modular unit. In April 2016, town voters rejected a proposal to spend $8.4 million to renovate the existing building.

In the months following the defeat, town officials surmised that voters wanted a new building instead of renovating an old building, giving rise to the current proposal.