Norwich Tries Again
$1.4 million bond vote on new police and fire station set for Tuesday.
A majority of the selectboard, two department chiefs and the project architect made the case in favor of a $1.4 million bond to build a new headquarters for the police and fire departments at a public hearing Wednesday night. Their audience consisted of seven taxpayers and two preschool children.
Prior public hearings to discuss earlier, failed bond issues for a public safety building were noteworthy for their many impassioned pleas for and against the proposals. Last night was different. There was hardly any discussion. And the only question of significance was whether the new building will have solid or hollow-core doors. (It will have solid doors.)
Here are the key takeaways from Wednesday night's public hearing
*The total cost for the 5,400-square-foot building is estimated at $1.4 million. That total includes construction, site work, furnishings and rental expense to house the police department during construction.
*Taxpayers will see a tax impact for debt service of $16.07 per $100K of assessment in 2019. That is a peak. The amount the town pays in debt service declines after 2019 as older bond issues are retired.
*The building will be built to net zero energy standards. The primary heating source will be electric heat pumps powered by solar panels.
*If the bond passes on November 8, bids will be requested. Construction could begin in the spring. Completion is possible by the end of 2017.
*The police will use the locker rooms and park their cruisers in Hartford during construction. The department will also rent office space to keep an in-town presence while the new building is built.
Christopher Ashley, the lone vote on the selectboard against the project, explained his position. He believes the meeting room is too small, that there should be more than two showers in the facility and it was wrong to eliminate 11 parking spaces to avoid a permit required by the Agency of Natural Resources. Ashley believes the process was rushed and those three issues should have been addressed before the project was bonded.
Jay White, the project architect, responded to Ashley's concerns, saying that the meeting room met the fire department's needs and state regulations. In addition, all of Ashley's concerns could be addressed after the bond passed and the bids came in.
"If bids are less than the total budget, then some other changes can be incorporated," said White. He explained that he could fine-tune the design so that more showers or square feet for the meeting room could be added to the building's final drawings.
A second public hearing on the project is scheduled for November 3 at 7:00 P.M. in Tracy Hall.