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Center Harbor gets pre-town meeting view of proposed police station

February 24, 2010
CENTER HARBOR — Builders and town officials revealed the final plans for the proposed police station before it goes to town meeting, anticipating a potential reduction in cost.

The final plans for the police station were displayed at a public hearing Thursday night.

"What you see is going to be what you get if you vote to get the project," said Selectmen Chair Charley Hanson.

Architect Gary Goudreau showed the proposed plans for the one-and-a-half story building proposed for the area of Morrill Park and the Brooks property between the library and the municipal building.

Godreau said around seven different sites were examined before the area was chosen.

"We thought that this would reinforce the municipal center of town," Godreau said.

Three hearings have been held for the Police Station. During a previous hearing many residents protested the proposed location and took issue with the size of the building.

Since then the proposed size of the building was reduced and more greenspace is planned for around the station.

Goudreau said 84 percent of the greenspace will be salvaged, and a parking lot in back of the building was omitted from the plans in favor of more greenspace.

A path will lead from the library to the police station as part of a park with benches that will allow people to sit and utilize the library's wireless Internet on their laptops.

A park committee is in place as well, charged with coming up with a formal design for the park around the station if it is approved at town meeting

"(We) tried to keep the building as small as possible in terms of its footprint impact," Goudreau said.

The building itself is 5,400 square feet, which Police Chief Mark Chase said puts the building close to the size of the old Meredith Police Station. The building is two stories, though most activity will take place on the first floor.

There will be a transaction window in the lobby with an interview room and restrooms close by.

Prisoners will be taken in through the sally port near the back of the building, processed, and held in a detention area until they make bail. If they are unable to make bail, they are held briefly in the detention area until they are taken to County Jail.

Chase said, despite rumors to the contrary, this detention area will not be a jail to hold prisoners for lengthy amounts of time and only a place to keep prisoners until they make bail or are transported.

There will also be a community and training room around 650 square feet, around two-thirds the size of the Cary Mead Room in the municipal building. The room will be used for training operations as well as available for public use for meetings and other purposes.

The community and training room was retained after much discussion, though a prosecutor's office and one bay of the sally port was cut from the original plans.

The second floor contains men and women's locker areas with a separate room for mechanical, communications, and other operational uses. The dormers were removed from the plans, but a cupola was kept that serves as a ventilation room.

"It's a very simple design, but it's a good design," Chase said

Chase said second floor has room for expansion and room is also available to create a second sally port if the need arises.

Hanson said the building is as basically functional as possible with no extravagant additions.

The warrant article calls for $1.3 million for the police station bond, including a $40,000 contingency fund. The original plans called for $1.35 million. Hanson said the $1.3 million is a "worst case scenario."

Keith McBey, vice-president of Bonnette, Page, and Stone said the bid process is underway and an updated figure is expected before town meeting. McBey said he has been meeting with Goudreau, Chase, and the subcontractors to try to get a tight number. The final number is expected to decrease before town meeting.

Hanson said construction prices have been significantly lower in this economy.

Chase said he has been looking into grants for parts of the station with one already confirmed. He is also looking at a significant grant from the USDA that will pay for 50 percent of certain items, such as a generator, security system, and others.

Hanson said if the bond is approved, it will be done as a 30-year bond through USDA Rural Development which allows the town to pay off the principal ahead of time and will have an impact of 15 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation, or an impact of $44 a year for a $300,000 property.

The bond will not go into repayment until 2011, meaning there will be no impact in 2010.

If the project is approved, work is expected to begin in the spring and the building could possibly be done by the end of the year.

The police station will be a ballot vote requiring 67 percent of the vote to pass, and polls must be open for one hour. It will be one of the first items discussed at town meeting. Hanson said information will be available by the polls March 9, and Chase will be available to answer questions.

Martin Lord & Osman
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