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Public Safety Complex Proposal
Our town has a need that must be solved. The current police building that was always planned as a temporary facility needs to be replaced. The size, layout, features, and condition of the building cannot be ignored any longer. It cannot be reconfigured to conform to the proper standards without a significant and costly upgrade.
I am proposing a solution.
Our town has had quite a history of trying to solve this problem over the past 15 years. In 2004, a facility was proposed on the grounds of what is now called “Camp Niantic.” The proposal called for a building that would be jointly used by town public safety departments and the National Guard and State of CT emergency management. The cost to the town was about $6.5 million. The proposal was rejected by the Board of Finance and never made it to a referendum. In hindsight, it is too bad our town was not able to act on this plan. We certainly would have been in a better position today had we been bold enough to make this plan a reality.
It was during this time that the growing police force moved from the small building in the town hall parking lot (now the Probate Court) to a temporary facility on Main Street. The building was at one time a Connecticut Light and Power facility. Millstone Power Plant had purchased the building and had a “Discovery Science Center” there until leasing it to the town for $1 per year. A few improvements were made to the building before the police moved in. Again, 278 Main Street had always been considered a temporary police station until a permanent, more suitable solution could be found. Although from the outside, the building appears adequate and perhaps charming on our busy Main Street, inside is a logistical and safety nightmare. Environmental concerns, space needs, and deterioration of the facility must be dealt with. The police department is currently spread between this building, rented facilities in Waterford, and our dispatch center in Flanders.
About three years later, another facility was proposed. The building would be built across from Bridebrook Park on Route 156 on what is state owned land. The facility would house all the public safety departments under one roof including police, fire marshal’s office, emergency management, and dispatch. If the town ever had its own police force, it would have the room for records, jails, and other requirements. The cost for the new facility was $14 million. (actual 2007 dollar value). The proposal made it thru the Boards of Selectmen and Finance however the project was soundly defeated at referendum.
Once again, our town had not reached a definitive conclusion on what do with our police and public safety departments. This last plan was 11 years ago.
THE NEW PLAN
I am proud to announce and make public for the first time a new plan for an East Lyme Public Safety Building. With assistance from members in our community, department heads and specifically the police commission, I have negotiated agreeable terms for the purchase of an existing building that is perfectly suited for our needs, today and for the next 50 years.
The Town of East Lyme has entered into a purchase and sales agreement on The Honeywell Corporation building at 277 West Main Street. The agreement stipulates that we must meet the appropriation approvals that are clearly spelled out in our town charter and ordinance book. Namely, the sale cannot be finalized until it meets the approval of the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance, a town meeting and/or a town-wide referendum. According to the agreement, we must be complete with our approval process in 120 days. There will be many public meetings and forums to give our citizens a chance to learn the details of the project and questions to clarify and concerns.
The agreed price for the purchase of the building is $2.775 million. A market and sales analysis conducted earlier this year indicate that this is a fair price for the building and the 17 acres that it sits on. An architect specializing in public safety buildings has already walked the property. His initial estimate for upgrading and repurposing the building to meet the standards of a police building is $3.2 million. In the end, this is a $6 million solution to our lingering problem…less than the combined facility proposed 14 years ago at Camp Niantic and less than half of the cost of our own building that was rejected in 2007.
The current building is still owned by Dominion Energy. I have sat down with leaders from Dominion and we have agreed to working together in a public/private partnership to find a suitable use for the building. The goal is to create a great retail, restaurant, and/or residential space in the heart of Main Street. Dominion is a valued partner and will work with our town to bring the right use for this space.
The location of the building will create some discussion. The location is on the Southwest edge of our town. While it would be ideal to have this facility in the middle of our town, it simply isn’t the case. The police will tell testify that it will not matter. Police officers that are patrolling throughout the town are the officers that respond to calls and alarms. In addition, the quick access to the Rocky Neck Connect makes access to all points in town just minutes away.
The Town of East Lyme and the Town of Old Lyme began discussions last year about the possibility of combining our police force in an effort to regionalize our services to provide better coverage, share equipment and facilities, and save taxpayer money. If the discussions progress to a real plan, the public safety facility will be ideally located. The discussions are still on-going.
COMMUNICATION GOING FORWARD
This proposal has been in planning for a long time. While the P&S agreement calls for a decision within 120 days (March 15th), we’ve been at work on this plan for over 18 months. The police commission along with members of a task have done research, gather pertinent information, and reviewed option so that we would be well-prepared once this announcement could be made public.
Through the use of social media, the town’s website, local media, and a series of public forums, I am hopeful to get the details directly to our citizens. I will be available to answer questions and research necessary details during regular business hours at the town hall for anyone who would like to discuss this plan. I will be scheduling a couple public hearings with presentations that will spell out the need to upgrade our facilities and why this plan makes the most sense.
Lastly, I wish to reiterate the importance of this project. The current facility is inadequate in ways that can no longer be ignored. The plan proposed is the least expensive plan that meets our current needs and will serve our needs for the next 50+ years. I wish we didn’t have to face this project…after-all, we are still finishing up the school rehab project. I wish it was something that the town had properly planned for years ago. But we must move forward.
This is the last big project for our town for years and years to come. I am proud of this project and I am grateful to those who have assisted me in putting this plan together.
East Lyme First Selectman
Public Safety Complex Task Force Meetings
- Public Safety Vision Committee Agendas/Minutes are in Board of Selectmen Subcommittee Agendas/Minutes
- 2019 Agendas Minutes
- 2018 Agendas Minutes
- 02/20/2019 Wed Referendum Unofficial Results: Passed – 1389 Yes, 803 No.
- 02/06/2019 Wed 7:00PM Board of Selectmen (Agenda, Minutes, Video)
- 01/26/2019 Sat 1:00PM-3:00PM ELPD Open House, 278 Main St, Niantic
- 01/23/2019 Wed 7:00PM Board of Finance (Agenda, Minutes)
- 01/22/2019 Tue 7:00PM Board of Selectmen (Agenda, Minutes, Video)
- 01/15/2019 Tue 7:00PM Public Forum at East Lyme High School Auditorium (Presentation Slides, Video)
- 01/02/2019 Wed 7:00PM Board of Selectmen Regular Meeting (Agenda, Minutes, Video)
- 12/15/2018 Sat 1:00PM-3:00PM ELPD Open House, 278 Main St, Niantic
- 12/10/2018 Mon 7:00PM Public Forum at East Lyme High School Auditorium (Presentation Slides, Videos)
- 11/21/2018 Wed 5:00PM Board of Selectmen Regular Meeting (Agenda, Minutes, Video)
- Building Sales Price Comparisons
- Proposed Public Safety Complex Floor Plan
- January 15 Public Forum Presentation Slides
- Comparison tables and charts
- December 10 Public Forum Presentation Slides
- Press Release: Honeywell acquires INNCOMM (06/04/2012)
- 03/10/2019 The Day East Lyme appoints committee to design new public safety facility
- 02/20/2019 The Day East Lyme residents OK $5 million public safety facility
- 02/20/2019 WFSB East Lyme residents approve referendum on new public safety complex
- 02/19/2019 WTNH East Lyme vote on Public Safety complex, referendum passes
- 02/19/2019 WTNH East Lyme set to vote on Public Safety complex
- 02/18/2019 WFSB East Lyme residents to vote in referendum on new public safety complex
- 02/17/2019 The Day A smart solution to address East Lyme’s police station problem
- 02/13/2019 The Day East Lyme to hold referendum on proposed policing facility
- 01/24/2019 The Day East Lyme’s proposed public safety facility moves to referendum
- 12/11/2018 The Day East Lyme officials detail proposed police HQ at forum
- 11/24/2018 The Day Editorial: This offer may be too good for East Lyme to pass up
- 11/18/2018 The Day East Lyme proposes almost $6 million public safety complex
- 11/14/2018 WVIT East Lyme Looking to Purchase New, All-Encompassing Police Facility
- 11/13/2018 WTNH East Lyme leaders want new public safety building
- 11/13/2018 Town of East Lyme Press Release