NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

November 20, 2013

Conceptual design for public safety complex presented

BY JENNIFER SOLIS
CORRESPONDENT

---- — NEWBURY – A $10.5 million investment may be necessary to solve space and programming needs for the police, fire, and emergency management departments and to improve operations at the Town Hall.

A preliminary building assessment report issued this month by CSS Architects, Inc. of Wakefield and MacRitchie Engineering, Inc. of Braintree notes “significant space and functional deficiencies in the buildings now occupied by the Police Department, the Fire Department and the municipal offices.”

The analysis provides a conceptual design for developing a building program for police, fire and EMA that optimizes functionality, security and public safety and also contemplates “altering the existing Town Hall to allow for expansion into the ground level spaces vacated by the police department. “

The town’s public safety functions are brought under one roof, but the proposed design maintains distinct and separate entrances for each department. It calls for building a 21,500 square-foot complex on two parcels currently owned by Protection Fire Company 2. The existing fire station would be razed and additional parking for 25 vehicles would be added in its place.

To minimize the building’s footprint the facility would be two stories high and building systems would be centrally located. The preliminary design includes several shared spaces – for training, civic events, lobby, janitorial storage, mechanical/electrical areas, public bathrooms, and parking — and a combined space for Harbormaster and Animal Control.

The space is divided with 9,403 square-feet going to police functions — not including the sally port — and 9,902 for the fire department.

The design for the proposed new police station offers 832 square-feet for dispatch; 1,445 square feet. for patrol; 1,752 square feet for a highly secured sally port and detention area; 440 square-feet for detective/CID/Evidence; 1,812 square-feet for administration that includes reception area, chief and deputy chief offices, bunkroom, break/exercise room, and other uses.

The fire station would have overnight accommodations and would be sited in a way that allows for future expansion of the 5,782 square feet apparatus bay area. It has 2,850 square-feet for firefighter accommodations including a dayroom, exercise and kitchen area; lockers, showers and bunkrooms; offices for the fire chief and deputy chief; and areas for the captain and lieutenants.

The report also looks at the possibility of relocating some first floor offices downstairs at Town Hall once the police move out. However the expansion is predicated on further investigation into how to provide adequate headroom in the lower level, the report states. Handicap accessibility to the ground floor and additional mechanical and electrical upgrades would also be required under this scenario.

Construction costs for the 2457 square-feet Town Hall expansion portion of the overall project are estimated at $817,500 with an additional $167,000 in estimated non-construction costs. Construction of the public safety complex is projected to cost $7.6 million with $1.87 million in non-construction costs. The estimates are based on recent constructions costs for similar projects with escalation to 2015.

The plan proposes an eastward expansion of the first floor of Town Hall “to allow for direct barrier-free access to the lower level to provide additional, much needed office space,” the report states. A renovation of the existing lower level would provide space for records storage and municipal meetings. The design includes space for the Inspection Office, Conservation Commission, Planning and Health Boards, a break room/kitchen, a wheelchair lift and corridor, and a spot for storing polling equipment.

Survey work, wetlands delineations, and environmental analysis of the proposed public safety site must be completed next. The parcels will then be compared to other sites that were previously identified by the Public Safety Site Selection Committee as potential spots for a new police department –specifically, land on Route 1 owned by Governor’s Academy, the Town Forrest, Manter Field, and the Newbury Library. The Woodbridge School is no longer available.

Public workshops will be planned before any vote to fund design services for the project occurs at Annual Town Meeting next May.