Design work to proceed on East Lyme safety complex

East Lyme — Town officials on Tuesday gave the architects designing the renovation of the former Honeywell office building into a new public safety facility the go-ahead to keep moving forward on a design approved by the Public Safety Building Vision Committee.

Architects Silver/Petrucelli + Associates will now prepare detailed construction plans the town will use to seek bids from contractors. Those plans are expected to be completed in early January.

The plans call for consolidating the town's police operations, dispatch center, fire marshal's office and emergency operations center — which are currently located in different locations throughout town — on the first floor of the building at 277 W. Main St., with an information technology room to be located on the second floor. The rest of the second floor will remain unoccupied and could be used in the future to accommodate other departments.

The vision committee Tuesday night also decided to locate a public restroom within the entrance area of the building, tacking on an estimated $30,000 to $40,000 to the cost of the $1.7 million project.

The $1.7 million figure does not include an estimated $119,088 needed to install an elevator or the estimated $733,524 to build a sally port and holding cells.

The committee is moving forward on designing the sally port and holding cell area. Committee Chairman Paul Dagle has said the hope is to obtain bids on the cells and sally port and then decide with the committee on whether to seek additional funding that residents would have to approve. Police currently lease Waterford's holding cells to process arrests.

Residents have approved spending up to $5 million to purchase and renovate the  building. The town spent $2.77 million to purchase the building in May and put aside $500,000 for communication hookup costs, leaving $1.7 million for design and construction costs.

Not exceeding the $1.7 million budget could hinge on whether the town can receive a state waiver to not upgrade the building to withstand hurricane force winds, something typically required of modern public safety buildings.

The hurricane upgrades would cost an estimated $243,737 more, possibly pushing renovation costs beyond the $1.7 million budget.

Dagle said the committee won’t have a finalized cost for the building until it receives construction bids from contractors.

From there, the committee will make recommendations on including the elevator, sally port and holding cells, to the boards of selectmen and finance, for a decision. The architects said the renovations may be completed by July 2020.

“We don’t know what it’s going to be. It could be less. We may get a vendor who wants to come in and get work done (for less), who’s hungry for work,” Dagle said after Tuesday’s meeting. “We are still in the ballpark of the remaining $1.7 million.”

m.biekert@theday.com

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