The Town of Colchester has bonded to build a new police station, but the question of whether it will be built on school property has been the subject of some debate.
The original multimillion-dollar, three-phase facilities upgrades initiative in the Town of Colchester was to upgrade the town garage, build a new town office building, and upgrade the existing administration building for use as a police station. However, intentions shifted toward building a new police station after it was determined that properly renovating the former administration building for use as a police station would be more costly than designing and building a brand-new facility.
During discussions concerning where to construct the proposed police station, the four-acre parcel sandwiched between Laker Lane and Blakely Road was suggested as an option. Other Town of Colchester facilities are currently maintained on school property, including Colchester Rescue, Colchester Technical Rescue, and half of the town garage. The suggestion was that, if the Town of Colchester leased the land for the new police station from the school district, the school could then use the former police station for its new administrative offices.
Such a move would pave the way for future cost-saving measures by combining such services as Human Resources, payroll, maintenance, and the like for the Town of Colchester and the Colchester School District. Additionally, vacating the school district’s current administrative office building on Laker Lane would allow the students enrolled in Colchester Alternative Program (CAP) to move into that space. This relocation would allow the CAP students to be on campus and allow them access to the district’s voice and data network. It would also allow them to transition from their current tight quarters into a larger, more efficient working space. Furthermore, the move would release the district from its current rental and utilities cost obligations—estimated at approximately $30,000–35,000 annually—in order to maintain CAP in its current location on Blakely Road.
The school district would also benefit from increased security as the result of the police presence on campus.
There are some differences of opinion regarding the feasibility of such an arrangement. Concerns for rare and protected plants on the proposed building site have been raised, as has the issue of the fair market value of the old administration building offsetting the cost of leasing the land—although this concern was not voiced for the other Town facilities on school property. There are also concerns that this arrangement would exacerbate the already difficult traffic situation at the intersection of Blakely Road and Laker Lane at certain times of the day—although the option of building a second exit onto Blakely Road from the property has been proposed to mitigate that issue. Additionally, per statute, the Town may not enter into a long-term lease (defined as more than three years) without obtaining permission from the voters.
On November 3, 2009, voters approved Article 812-788 at a special meeting to “use the funds already approved by the voters previously to be reallocated to finance a police station on Laker Lane in the Town of Colchester.”
Meanwhile, although Severance Corners has been suggested as alternative location for the proposed police station, it, too, comes with its own set of challenges, particularly from a funding perspective.
The discussion remains ongoing.
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