, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 13, 2013

Committee favors Morgan Ave. parcels for public safety complex

NEWBURY — The Public Safety Complex Committee offered selectmen a presentation this week detailing the history of the proposed new construction project it feels is the right answer to the space and programming needs of police, fire, emergency management departments and Town Hall offices.

At a regular selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday, chairman Martha Taylor began her PowerPoint presentation with a review of the background that brought her committee to this point.

In 2004 a self-evaluation of the police department, which eventually became part of an inventory process for the 2006 Master Plan, found the current police station, located in the basement of Town Hall, was too small and functionally obsolete. The facility was subjected to repeated flooding and didn’t meet current building codes.

The Master Plan recommendation was to relocate the station, potentially developing a public safety complex as part of that process. The option of expanding the station into the first floor of Town Hall and moving town offices into the Woodbridge School was explored in 2008.

In May 2012 the Capital Planning Committee issued a site inspection report calling for a space needs assessment and an investigation into possible redevelopment options.

Appointed the following month, the Public Safety Site Selection Committee offered several possible spots for a new police or public safety facility, including Woodbridge School, property on Route 1 owned by The Governor’s Academy, Manter Field, the public library and the Town Forest on Boston Road. A combined Town Hall, police and fire stations at 25 High Road was also discussed.

The Public Safety Complex Committee, appointed in June, took a closer look at the site selection’s preferred location — two parcels on Morgan Avenue owned by Fire Protection Company #2. It found that in addition to the needs of the police department, the fire department lacked space for apparatus and facilities critical to meeting current fire safety standards. Mechanical and electrical systems were past their useful life.

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