Norwich police station group begins mission

Norwich - Members of the new Police Station Committee said they had mixed feelings about the proposed $33 million new downtown station defeated in a November referendum, some saying they voted for it and some against it.

Now the group is charged with studying previous sites considered as well as looking at new possible sites for a new police station. The group met for the first time Thursday in an organizational meeting. All members present said they have "an open mind" about the process.

Mayor Peter Nystrom opened the meeting before the group elected David Eggleston as chairman and Karen Neeley as vice chairman.

Nystrom reviewed the mission statement that calls for the group to make recommendations to the City Council in September but said there is no real deadline.

"You run this process," Nystrom said.

The City Council formed the committee in March to decide the next steps in trying to find a new police station site after voters rejected the $33 million project that would have renovated the former Sears building and several surrounding vacant lots for the project.

Nystrom said the committee would receive all the information about previous sites considered over the years and invited them to look at new sites. Chief Louis Fusaro invited the group to tour the station at 70 W. Thames St., considered too small for the police department and its renewed emphasis on community policing.

"I'm anxious to see what the chief presents to us," member Martin Shapiro said. "And I'm anxious to have a tour of the current police station."

The committee received copies of the police station needs assessment report and will hold the next meeting at the police station at 5 p.m. on May 9. Regular meetings will be held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 5 p.m. at locations to be determined.

Neeley said she was concerned from the start last June when the $33 million project was first proposed that it would be "a tough sell," just two years after voters approved a $3.38 million downtown revitalization bond.

Member David Winkler said he felt it was important that the new committee come up with a "strong recommendation" to the City Council rather than multiple options. But he said he believes there are a number of possible good sites for a police station.

c.bessette@theday.com

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