MERRIMAC — Chief Eric Shears and the Public Safety Building Committee would like to invite community members to a public forum to ask questions and learn more about the town’s proposal to build a new police station.
The new facility will allow the Merrimac Police Department to provide quality service to community members in a safe, secure and efficient building. If approved, the building will feature designated space for residents who come in to discuss confidential and sensitive matters with police officers. Residents applying for or renewing firearms permits will be able to complete transactions in an area away from the prisoner booking area, and an Emergency Operations Center will double as a meeting room that will be available to the community for meetings and educational opportunities.
The Merrimac Public Safety Building Committee has been working for seven years on developing a project that will assure the best possible service for residents for many years.
Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.
Merrimac Fire Department
16 East Main Street
Merrimac, MA 01860
Officials, including members of the Public Safety Building Committee, will outline a proposal for construction of a new 8,375 square foot Merrimac Police Station located on a nine acre parcel of land on West Main Street.
The current Merrimac Police Station, which was constructed in the late 1800s/early 1900s, is in dire need of replacement. After many years of use, the building has multiple structural deficiencies, including a sinking foundation and cracks in the walls and floors, allowing water to leak in during inclement weather. The facility also lacks privacy for employees and residents who come in to discuss or report something sensitive in nature. The dispatch area is undersized and cannot adequately serve the community and the jail cells fail Department of Public Health inspections every year, resulting in continual maintenance (with current repair costs estimated at $12,000). Due to limited space, the garage doubles as an area for records and equipment storage, as well as three banks of lockers, and there currently is not space for an interview room.
The town acquired the building in 1973, and it was first used to house the Merrimac Police and Fire Departments. Three years later, the Merrimac Highway Department moved into the building, and in 1986, a dispatch center was added.
In 2011, Chief Shears received a report from the Board of Health that a building inspection indicated that it was unfit for habitation and conditions were a danger to the health and safety of any occupants. After $45,000 in repairs, town officials formed the Public Safety Building Committee to begin examining eventual replacement of the building.
By 2014, Town Meeting attendees approved an article to fund a feasibility study to determine the needs of the three departments. In 2016, the study was completed and called for more than $25 million in recommended projects, which the town determined to be an excessive expense for residents.
One year later, the Public Safety Building Committee came up with a revised proposal to build a new police facility, highway garage and complete a best efforts renovation of the fire department. While voters did not support the $15 million proposal, officials took it as an opportunity to learn more about the needs of the community.
A recent town-wide survey indicated that 79 percent of residents recognized a need for a new Merrimac Police Station.
Using feedback from constituents, the Public Safety Building Committee reworked its proposal, focusing on a new police facility. With the highway garage and fire station set aside for separate consideration, it allowed the town to cut the cost of the project by more than 50 percent.
Residents are now asked to support the current proposal to build a new code-compliant police station. The town plans to borrow $6.5 million to complete the project, which will be paid back over a period of 25 years. This translates to residents contributing approximately $50 more in taxes for every $100,000 of a home’s assessed value. Based on the average assessed home value in Merrimac, this would result in an increase of about $200 per year.