Panel ponders potential police station sites for Norwich

Norwich - Displaying planning maps showing development density, major roads and utilities, officials from the Norwich Community Development Corp. told the police station study committee that it would make sense that a site for a proposed new police station be located along the same corridors.

The committee heard a presentation from NCDC President Robert Mills, Vice President Jason Vincent and Redevelopment Agency Chairwoman Marge Blizard on planning and economic development trends that might be related to finding an appropriate site for a police station.

The new draft Plan of Conservation and Development will recommend that dense development in the city focus on areas along main roadways where utilities are in place and where historic development has occurred - such as downtown, Greeneville, Taftville and the Route 97 section of Occum.

"These maps indicate to me that the preferred location (for the police station) would be downtown or Taftville," committee member Scott Camassar said.

Committee Chairman David Eggleston said he interpreted the information to show that downtown or Greeneville should be the top locations considered.

The City Council established the police station study committee in the spring after voters soundly defeated a $33.4 million proposed new police station at the former Sears department store building at 2-6 Cliff St. and several surrounding lots downtown. The committee has reviewed the previous plan, a needs assessment for a new station, and will consider any potential site for a facility.

Mills said discussions he has had with Police Chief Louis Fusaro also revealed that these locations would give police the easiest access to other portions of the city quickly. While police mostly work from the field - patrolling in cruisers or on bicycles or on foot in neighborhoods - officers would use the headquarters at the start and end of their shifts.

It would make the most sense, Mills said, not to "waste time" getting to their patrol routes from a remote location. Vincent added that he would recommend a new station be proposed somewhere south and east of where Interstate 395 crosses through the city.

Blizard said she would not recommend putting the police station in a residential neighborhood, because the 24-hour site could generate traffic, especially if the building includes community meeting space and regional police training facilities.

"In general, the service needs are where the people are," Blizard said, "but the building doesn't have to be."

c.bessette@theday.com

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