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Cost estimates for public safety facility options reconsidered

October 08, 2009
TUFTONBORO — The Oct. 5 meeting of the Tuftonboro Board of Selectmen began with a reversal of the decision made at last Monday's meeting to acquire cost estimates for both standalone and combined public safety building proposals considering two different locations.

The sticking points for Selectman Chair Dan Duffy were the consideration of a combined fire/police facility, the cost of further study, and the length of time involved.

"I'm unhappy with the decision I made," he said, reopening a discussion among the members of the board and audience, including Betsy Frago, who served on the public safety facilities committee, and John Simms, chairman of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) committee.

Selectman Carolyn Sundquist responded that, in her opinion, the board needs to discuss the issue at length and said that there is time, since they decided already that they would not bring a building proposal to voters in March. She feels that the potential of using the library building, which will be available once a new library is built, as a police station, needs to be assessed; the Dearborn property is not ideal; and the Gould property does not have a site plan yet.

She said she would like more information comparing the costs of a standalone fire station and eventual expansion of the police station with a combined facility, meeting the needs of both.

Selectman Bill Stockman commented that he was getting feedback against building a combined facility. He likes the idea of building in phases, starting with a fire station, and then a library, concluding with a police station; sees having two buildings as an advantage; and also sees benefits to centralizing services, as building a fire station on the Dearborn property would do.

Duffy commented that he felt that the board had given direction to the CIP in regard to a sequence of projects and that the board should stay with that. He read the letter the board planned to send out to architects aloud, and said that he felt that the board already has the answers to most of the questions. Stockman responded that the board does not have figures on operating costs.

"There has been no public discussion of this," said Frago. " We need cost analysis. We don't know how much it costs, and we would be foolhardy to go forward without it…At town meeting, people were against the costs." She added, "I'm not arguing for a combined facility, but the cost figures are necessary…we need to have facts versus feelings."

Simms offered, "We've been looking at this for many years. To acquire cost estimates for four options is costly in time and money." He suggested that the board "pick a direction. Have a cost analysis with an architect. You can then change direction as needed."

The benefit of putting the Dearborn property back on the tax rolls, a position held by Sundquist, was brought up by Ruth Smith, who said that it isn't worth much but whoever buys it would have to pay taxes.

Joan Theve then asked what benefit there is to holding on to it and said that the Gould property gives the town options. Duffy agreed that there is more space, and Sundquist pointed out that it is not between two houses – as the Dearborn property is – to which Stockman responded that there are abutters to the Gould property as well.

Police Chief Andrew Shagoury said that he felt that money spent on topographic mapping of the Gould property would be well spent, arguing that money spent for "solid information now could save dollars down the road." He also commented that even a combined building could be phased.

Duffy made a motion to go ahead and acquire architectectural services to consider the costs and advantages of building a fire station on either the Dearborn or Gould sites and the cost of changing the library over to a police station. Stockman joined the motion. Sundquist voted against it, saying she didn't see the necessity if the combined building option was off the table.

Simms said that he felt that the architect should be told that the purpose is to limit options and the town needs a quick response.

Police department update

Shagoury reported that Officer James Hathcock is now certified as a thermographer, in the use of the recently acquired thermal imaging monocular, which measures temperature differences. The certification is necessary in order to lay grounds for a search warrant, and the monocular, in addition to aiding in search and rescue operations and fugitive recovery, is helpful in investigating accidents.

For instance, the heat of brake marks on the road gives information on the speed of the vehicle and a difference in heat between marks can show whether one brake was working faster than the other.

His year to date statistics show that calls, motor vehicle stops and arrests are up, while accidents are down.

Terry Colby turned in the winning bid of $1,558.59 for the town's former police cruiser, a 2001 Chevy Tahoe. Ten bids were submitted for the vehicle, which has accumulated 127,207 miles.

Public input

Joan Theve, who has been serving as the town's representative to the Carroll County Transit Project, said that she doesn't plan on attending future meetings. She said she doesn't feel she has anything to contribute.

Plans now call for a bus transportation route from Wolfeboro to Ossipee and along Routes 25 and 16 into North Conway. Laconia is also on the list. Drivers will go one quarter mile off the route upon request.

Theve mentioned that Dave Jeffers, a member of the planning board, attends meetings regularly.

Copies of the CIP report, focused on planning for the years 2010 through 2019, are available in the Tuftonboro Free Library and the Town Offices and should be up on the town Web site soon.

The next meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Oct. 26, 7 p.m., at the town offices.

Matin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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