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Infrastructure, service space needs discussed at Sandwich summer meeting

August 18, 2010
SANDWICH — The future space and infrastructure needs of the Police Department and the village were among the major topics discussed at Sandwich's annual summer meeting.

Sandwich residents gathered on Wednesday for Your Town 2010, the annual summer informational meeting held during Old Home Week.

Police Chief Doug Wyman said the town has been affected by the state budget crunch with service limitations at the county level.

The Sandwich Police Department receives service and dispatch assistance from New Hampshire State Police Troop E in Tamworth, though there have been fewer troopers to assist. That week, evening dispatch in Sandwich was taken care of by State Police Headquarters in Concord.

Wyman and Sgt. Shawn Varney are the officers on call all the time with State Police providing assistance during the midnight hours. Fewer troopers have been available, which has meant Sandwich officers having to do longer days.

A major issue has been a reduction of services at the Carroll County Jail.

"We're in a building that does not have booking facilities," Wyman said. "The building was never meant to be a police station."

Common practice for arrests requiring bail have been to drop off prisoners at Carroll County Jail and the county would process them and provide a bail commissioner. Wyman said the county jail is no longer providing booking and bail services. During the day prisoners can be dropped off at district court and booked.

"We're under the good graces of the Moultonboro Police Department," Wyman said. "We have often improvised to the detriment of officer safety."

Wyman said "nine times out of 10" prisoners will be brought to Moultonboro or to State Police.

"If they start seeing increased activity that could very well change," Wyman said.

If someone is arrested from a farther place such as Manchester or Massachusetts, the transporting officer could wait three or four hours until the person bailing them out comes to the jail. Wyman said this can only be done by taking an officer off the road or putting one into overtime.

"We did stress to the County Commission our dismay of this," Wyman said.

Wyman said Sandwich and other Carroll County towns are working to get the commission to rethink this decision and are bringing the issue to the attention of the county delegation.

Wyman said the state has a freeze on hiring, but some money might be released for State Police services.

Sandwich sees an average of 30 arrests a year. As of last Tuesday, Wyman said there had been 2,113 incidents with 16 arrests for the year so far. This year has seen 823 more calls than last year.

Wyman said he was aware the Capital Improvements Plan listed the police station as a priority for around 2016. Roger Plimmer of the CIP committee said a major factor in considering a project is getting realistic construction cost estimates. Projects on the top of the list have been bridges, but more substantial capital projects may require understanding the demand for the future. A new police station is on that list as is a new Parks and Recreation facility.

"It's been a case of getting a more complete picture," Plimmer said. "How do we phase some of that activity?"

Regular infrastructure is another issue that has been carefully examined by the town and areas of need are already showing.

"I think the socio-economic viability of the town center is at a crossroads," said Selectman Jerry Gingras.

Gingras said the board was made aware of how a lack of sewer capacity might hinder controlled growth in town.

A proposal is in place for the former home of Denley Emerson to become a senior housing complex. However, the Sewer Commission said there was no capacity for the project. Selectmen have expressed concern that the inability to make old abandoned buildings into useable structures will result in them becoming dilapidated and can threaten the viability and history of the town center.

"I think it's contingent upon us collectively to address this," Gingras said. "We need to come up with a plan that restores the socio-economic viability of the town. I think the town is being held hostage by this one system that is already affecting our ability to branch out and let it grow. If no one else can hook into the sewer or upgrade a sewer system then the town is going to remain as it currently is."

Gingras said some capacity has to be found somewhere and somehow, options including looking in to system flow or building new leachfields.

"I was very disappointed to hear we lost an opportunity to upgrade a building in town because of the lack of opportunity to hook into the sewer," said Board Chair Leo Dwyer. "I think that's a loss to the town."

Selectman Bud Martin said the board met with the Sewer Commission to express concern and discussed the need for planning on a preliminary basis with some engineering needed.

"There's going to be some atrophication at some point," Martin said. "There's some structures in the village here that would lend itself to bed and breakfasts and the like."

Gingras said issues might include infiltration into the system and system misuse, such as a sump pump feeding into the system.

"If indeed we are being infiltrated by water let's do an analysis of it," Gingras said.

Board members and residents said they are aware there is a section of the community who wants to see change and a section that does not.

Additional topics included a recent engineering study of town hall. Administrative Assistant Catherine Graham said a crossbeam will be put into the ceiling to better support weight on the second floor, though that was the only issue.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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