Police station tough sell in Norwich

The need for a new police station in Norwich is clear. The existing facility on Route 32 overlooking the Norwich Harbor is too small to meet current needs and is outdated. And abandoning that location will open other development possibilities for a spot that has one of the best views in the city, looking south down the Thames River.

Yet all that being true, city officials and particularly Mayor Peter Nystrom face a huge selling job in peddling their proposed solution to this problem. The administration this week announced plans to put a new police station in the heart of the downtown, on the corner of Main and Cliff Streets.

There is much to be said for the location. Having a police station in the downtown can only improve perceptions about security in the district. New construction, if done right, will mean a fresh face for a tired corner of the downtown. And based on preliminary information, it appears the city is seeking to do this right, building a facility that will meet not only current law enforcement needs but be adaptable enough to remain functional well into the future.

Yet the price tag for acquisition, site preparation and construction is a shocker - $33.4 million. In a city where many people are struggling pay check to pay check, where parents have been asked to accept less than they would want in their schools because of budget constraints, and where many consider taxes already too high, persuading taxpayers to take on that degree of additional debt will be challenging.

True, the city has a great bond rating, interest rates are low and construction bids very competitive because of a dearth of projects. All these things make it a good time to meet infrastructure needs. But it is still a lot of money.

We await the discussion and debate before passing our own judgment.

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