For Immediate Release
Monday, Oct. 3, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Public Safety Building Committee Discusses Results of Public Safety Facility Feasibility Study
Public Invited to Open House on Oct. 15
MERRIMAC — Police Chief Eric M. Shears is pleased to report that the Merrimac Public Safety Building Committee has reviewed the commissioned feasibility study and is prepared to move to the next phase of modernizing the town’s public safety and services infrastructure.
In May 2015 the Merrimac Board of Selectmen formed a Public Safety Building Committee to explore the feasibility and affordability of replacing/renovating the existing facility located at 16 East Main St. The existing building is severely deteriorated and outdated to the point where it compromises the safety of staff and visitors. In fact, the recent feasibility study showed that the police side of the building is actually sinking into the ground. Since that time the committee has met on numerous occasions developing a strategy to upgrade the Police, Fire and DPW to modern standards as most communities have done.
Following the Massachusetts Public Procurement protocol (MGL Chapter 149), HKT Architects Inc. was contracted by the committee in August 2015 to conduct a feasibility study for the Merrimac Public Safety Complex. This work included a review of existing facilities, an evaluation of safety and functional aspects of the building, programming for the Police, Fire, Emergency Services, Intermediate Ambulance Service and Public Works departments, and a review of several off site locations as possible locations for new structures.
The resulting 481-page study is a comprehensive look at all of these items. The full report is available for review on the Merrimac Police Department website.
The current facilities have outlived their expected lifespans and can no longer support the Town of Merrimac’s emergency and public works departments. The findings of the report include:
- The Police Department portion of the public safety building is sinking into the ground, and repairs would be extensive and costly.
- There is a risk to the environment, particularly with regards to storm water management, from the current facilities.
- The public safety complex impedes onto land beyond its property line.
- HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems are at the end of their useful life and will be costly to replace.
- Limited access for the disabled.
- Lack of a controlled booking area for the police department, which is a public safety risk.
- Significant moisture problems on the police department side.
At this time, the Public Safety Building Committee is recommending a new joint police/public works facility to be built at 106 West Main Street and a renovated fire department at the current 16 East Main Street site, with the old police department section being torn down.
“As the President of Crossfield Engineering, I have provided Mechanical Engineering services to over 25 communities in the past 30 years” committee member Mark Tocci said. “I fully understand the need for our community to upgrade our public safety facilities before they fall into complete disrepair.”
HTK recommended at 15,500 sq. ft police facility and nearly 27,000 sq. ft. public works facility. The Public Safety Building Committee has revised those recommendations. By making the new facilities a bit smaller, and by constructing a less expensive out building for police department storage, the town will be able to save several million dollars.
“Understanding the current deficiencies in our public safety facility, it is clear that the Town and the taxpayers will incur costs in the years ahead” said committee member and Chairman of the Finance Committee Richard LeSavoy. “My hope is that we choose to invest in the infrastructure we need for the future rather than the ongoing repair and maintenance of an outdated and inadequate building.”
The Merrimac Police, Fire & Department of Public Works will be hosting an open house on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 between 12 and 4 p.m. All those interested in taking a tour of the facilities are welcome.
“We are two-years into what is a very methodical, deliberate process for recommending public safety and public services facilities that meet the needs of a modern community without excessive costs to the taxpayers,” Chief Shears said. “I am very proud of the work of the committee so far, but much work remains.”
The next steps are site surveys and architectural/engineering designs for the project, which can move forward with the approval of Town Meeting on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016.