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Norwich - The City Council has agreed to seek competitive bids for a new police station either on city-owned land or private developer proposals that could be leased to the city.
The bid process was recommended by the Police Station Study Committee in a July 9 report presented to the City Council's Public Safety Committee, which had been asked to review two unsolicited private developer proposals for the police station at the former YMCA property on Main Street or on land owned by Thayer's Marine & RV on North Thames Street.
The committee's top recommendation is to build a new police station on the city-owned grounds of the former William A. Buckingham School, located between Washington and Cedar streets. The committee also said it believes a city-owned station on the Buckingham school site would be the most cost-effective plan.
Alderwoman Sofee Nob lick, a member of the Public Safety Committee, said the police station committee did "an excellent job" in reviewing the two proposals and in evaluating and ranking some 30 properties throughout the city for the possible project.
Noblick said seeking competitive bids would "level the playing field" by allowing any other private developers to come forward and for the two existing proposals to be submitted in more detail.
The council time frame calls for publishing the request for proposals by Sept. 2 and to receive responses by Nov. 3.
Police station committee member David Winkler urged the City Council Monday to act swiftly in planning a new police station. He said the need is immediate, and the committee spent 15 months studying the nearly three dozen properties throughout the city. Winkler said the committee believes the Buckingham property would be the best site, and suggested the council not delay the request for proposals and not have a long advertisement period.
Winkler said the committee visited several police departments in the state during its 15-month study period and saw firsthand the shortcomings of the Norwich department. "The circumstances they have to deal with are primitive," Winkler said. "They really are."
Voters soundly rejected a $33 million downtown police station project that would have converted the former Sears department store and several adjacent properties into a police station and parking garage. The study committee estimated building a police station at the Buckingham site - without a parking garage - would cost $20 million to $21 million.