East Lyme appoints committee to design new public safety facility

East Lyme — The Board of Selectmen has appointed a committee to plan the renovation of a building that will become the new public safety facility.

The $5 million proposal, which residents approved at a referendum last month, calls for spending $2,775,000 to buy the Honeywell office building at 277 W. Main St. and turn it into a police station.

The 30,000-square-foot facility, which would sit on 17 acres on the far western edge of town, will consolidate the town's dispatch center, fire marshal's office and emergency operations center, which currently are housed in Flanders, with police.

The proposed building would also include an evidence room, armory and storage, both of which are now housed at the Waterford Police Department, as well as space for other uses.

The town's 24-officer police force is currently housed in a small building on Main Street, which the town leases from Dominion Energy for $1 a year.

Creation of the committee is the first step the town is taking toward completing the renovation project, First Selectman Mark Nickerson said last week.

Members of the committee include Selectmen Kevin Seery, Dan Cunningham and Paul Dagle; Board of Finance members Anne Santoro, Lisa Picarazzi and Chairman Bill Weber; Police Commission members  Tony Buglione, Marc Powers and Dan Price; Police Chief Mike Finkelstein; and residents William Cornelius and Joe Barry. It will hold its first meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall.  

Though the committee’s exact responsibilities have not yet been detailed, the committee will be tasked with the planning and design of the building, as well as selecting an architect or a building design firm.

“That will all be up to them. They may choose either to hire an architect or a building design firm, and they will come up with the best value and design for the facility,” Nickerson said last week. “The vision committee has to start those conversations and go over the assets, features and the benefits of the building that we have right now and see what needs to change.”

With $2.23 million to renovate the building, the committee may not immediately build holding cells, which are estimated to cost $1 million, Nickerson said. 

East Lyme currently pays Waterford approximately $42,000 annually to use its holding cells under a three-year agreement between the two towns that ends in July 2020. East Lyme may extend that agreement depending on what the committee decides, Nickerson said.

After the committee finalizes the design and renovation plans, the town's Building Committee will oversee the rest of the project, Nickerson said.

Nickerson had said the renovations could possibly be completed as soon as 2020, according to estimates he had received. But last week, he said there was no timeline for completion of the renovations and that it will take “however long it takes for them to do it right.”

“They won’t rush through the process. There is urgency to get the police into a better, secure place, but we’re not going to do that at the expense of not doing it right,” he said.

m.biekert@theday.com

 

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