Council passes police station ballot question in ‘unorthodox’ way

Council passes police station ballot question in ‘unorthodox’ way

SCITUATE – It took an “unorthodox” and controversial Sunday morning vote, but the Scituate Town Council approved a resolution for a referendum question on a new police station.

Council members held a special meeting at 10 a.m. Sunday to pass the measure on what is now a proposed $1.7 million bond.

During a special meeting last Thursday, Nov. 30, Town Council President John Mahoney said another special meeting would be necessary to change the verbiage on the Jan. 23, 2018, ballot question. Mahoney said an unforeseen change from the fire safety officer would require an additional $200,000 to add sprinkler systems into the station.

Changing the wording in the bond tabled the vote for a required 48 hours for community input, and the Board of Elections had a deadline for ballot questions of Monday, Dec. 4, at 4 p.m.

To meet the deadline, the four “Independent Men” majority on the council scheduled a meeting Sunday, drawing criticism from others. Councilors and members of the audience asked for the meeting to be held early Monday instead.

“A Sunday meeting is a little awkward, I think, especially when you have two council members who can’t make it,” said Charter Commission Chairman Michael Marcello, indicating that he wanted the meeting to be more accessible to the public.

By a 4-3 vote, the council voted to hold the meeting Sunday.

Councilor Brenda Frederickson said, “I won’t go to a Sunday meeting,” and keeping to her word, she and Councilor David D’Agostino did not.

Mahoney explained the reasoning on having the meeting Sunday.

“It’s unorthodox, but we have to get there. The community has to be asked whether they would support to build a police station, or not,” he said. “I think we should stay the course. This is an important issue. We cannot keep these police officers in these trailers for an extended period of time.”

The bond, to be paid over the next 15 years, will have no impact to the local tax rate, according to Mahoney.

“We used an abundance of caution when we added the $200,000 to the bond,” he said following the Sunday morning vote, which took only a few minutes to complete. “If we have a surplus, we can apply it toward debt service on the bond.”

Voters will be asked to approve funding for a 7,500-square-foot police station next to the Scituate Senior Center on Chopmist Hill Road. Mahoney called the plan a “grand-slam” due to the site’s benefits. He said the cost advantages from building on town property and not buying the land, as well as tying into the newly-renovated Senior Center’s septic system, makes the site ideal.

Last Thursday’s special meeting allowed the public to voice opinions on building the proposed station.

Scituate resident Michelle Fiske demanded to know line by line where the money would be spent.

“We want to give them what they need, but I want to do this once and get it done right,” she said.

Council members said the upgraded dispatch system, camera monitoring, and telecom system would all be moved to the new building.

Later in the evening, Fiske questioned why a general contractor wouldn’t be hired for the job with the council opting for a building committee instead.

Mahoney said a building committee is standard in small towns with “talented” DPW employees capable of doing excavation at a lower cost to the town. He said council members, the building commissioner, and experienced members of the community would work in an ad hoc way to accomplish each job.

The former police headquarters is condemned and due to be demolished within two weeks if necessary repairs aren’t made. Mahoney said the $400,000 necessary for repairs would not put the station at industry standard.

Due to extensive mold issues, the town spent more than $400,000 to move police headquarters into the fire station and two trailers in the fall, and immediately fix Town Hall.

Council members said they hope to have the new police station built by November of 2018.

Comments

In the past 30 days the cost have increased 500k and will continue to spiral out of control, as this committee attempts to jam this project down our throat. This same committee has not provided the community with any analysis of cost from "Qualified Construction Companies".

Municipalities proposing multi-million dollar projects require feasibility committees to issue reports with their findings so projects can move forward. They also allow public input.
The due-diligence has been left out of this project and some very unqualified opinions substituted in their place.
Due-diligence overlooked to meet a timeline is unacceptable.
Please vote this project down.

The Chopmist Hill site is "Protected Land".
The Town of Situate purchased the land
with help from "THE TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND".

The land is to be used for "OPEN SPACE"
and "RECREATION" not "DEVELOPMENT "

It is also unorthodox not having our own
building inspector in Scituate. The last two building inspectors left office.
This should make taxpayers question the opinion of the Johnston Building Inspector authority to condemn an issue a tear-down order. Many others say this building can be repurposed for other uses, or temporarily house the police until a new station can be built.
The feasibility committee has stated that
they would like the Johnston Building Inspector to present testimony or a presentation, to make the public feel more comfortable in using town employees to build the station, verses a commercial contractor. Many in this town are getting an uneasy feeling about this arrangement.
Before that building is destroyed second opinions are needed from an impartial party. The building is a town asset.

This is beyond unorthodox!