Norwich officials to launch committee to look at new police station options

Norwich - Rebuffed by residents on a proposed $33 million new police station, city officials are regrouping and setting up a residents' committee to review all options and potential costs for a new police station - including the Cliff Street location rejected by voters in November.

Mayor Peter Nystrom and City Manager Alan Bergren said Monday they have asked aldermen to recommend members to a committee to be formed at the March 18 City Council meeting.

Bergren Monday said residents interested in serving on the committee should contact his office.

Nystrom said Monday that he has no specific timetable in mind, and is not aiming to place a new police station referendum question on the November ballot.

The plan rejected by voters would have used the former Sears Building at 2-6 Cliff St. and incorporated several vacant surrounding lots. The Sears site was the top choice of several properties considered for a police station over the past several years.

Now, Nystrom and Police Chief Louis Fusaro said some of the properties previously considered and rejected will be reviewed again by the new committee.

Those sites include the former William A. Buckingham School property on Washington and Cedar streets and a former automobile dealership on Route 32.

The school property was rejected for being in a residential zone, while the auto dealership commercial property was deemed too valuable to the tax base.

Two properties have come off the list. A former top site at 401 N. Main St. was sold to another auto business, and a large mill on Chestnut Street is in a flood plain and would not qualify for federal grants the city hopes to obtain, Bergren said.

Norwich resident Keith Ripley said he was asked to serve on the new committee by the mayor's office, and he will volunteer. Ripley said the Cliff Street property should not be considered the top site.

"I think you've got to look at something else," Ripley said. "There are other ideas that can be explored. I have some ideas."

c.bessette@theday.com

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