Sandown Voters Face Options for New Police Station

SANDOWN – Police chief Joe Gordon is urging voters to come out this year to support a project they’ve been saving for during the last five years, the construction of a new police station.

And the opportunity has arisen to complete that project at a significant savings, thanks to the timely arrival on the market of the old funeral home at 460 Main St. The building is currently used for apartments.

Gordon has been working with the seller for the past few weeks and recently secured a purchase and sale agreement for the property that he said fits all the needs of the department and is located on a great site.

At deliberative session this Saturday, voters will review two articles for the project. They are first on the warrant after the budget, a nod to the importance of the project from the police department and board of selectmen.

Selectman chair Tom Tombarello has long been a proponent of the project, stating that the current police station is woefully inadequate. And he, along with the rest of the board, is putting support behind the work wholeheartedly.

The first station-related article will be to raise $871,036 to purchase the property at 460 Main St., and refurbish it. As the town has already saved $745,163 through the years, the new appropriation needed totals $125,873.

It represents a savings of about $160,000 over the next article, which would build a station from scratch on Deer Run Road. While the plan all along has been to break ground at Deer Run, Gordon said that if 460 Main St., had been available earlier, the department would always have been looking to build there.

The second article, to build new, seeks $1,030,969. With the amount the town has saved, the appropriation needed totals $285,806.

A home inspection performed on Thursday, Jan. 23, turned in great results, said Gordon. The building is solid, the septic will last indefinitely as it was designed to handle numerous apartments, and the well looks good, as does the parking area.

The backbone of the station is there, and it’s what will save the town money, he said. The inside will have to be gutted, and an addition would be added to the rear for a garage. The roof would have to be redone to remake the structure into the police station.

But it’s all work that Gordon is confident will last for another 30 to 40 years before regular maintenance kicks in. While the roof is solid, Gordon wants to present not only a building that fits aesthetically with the rest of town, but because all along voters have been saving for a new structure, Gordon wants to present just that with the refurbished building.

Costs are further able to be diminished because Gordon is looking to get volunteer help to gut the building before it’s slated for renovations.

The general appearance of the exterior would change as well, to look more like a colonial style house, and the interior would be redesigned. The square footage is nearly identical to the plan for new construction, said Gordon.

The cost reflected in the warrant article also includes equipping the building.

Sandown resident Dave McCloud, who designed the new building planned for Deer Run, has agreed to refit that design into 460 Main St., at little to no cost, Gordon added.

The chief also pointed to the site’s location, saying there won’t be ledge or other environmental factors to contend with, as there would be if they built new, and that it presents a small municipal cluster in the area because it’s next door to the recreation building.

The department has long sought a new station because of the inadequacies of its current space. Problems abound at the station, not the least of which are the lack of holding cells, forcing police to handcuff offenders to a pole in the back room, and an inability to comply with state law in regard to juvenile confidentiality mandates because of space.

There’s likely only one chance at the existing building, as it will go back on the market if voters decide against its purchase.

“We only have one chance at this. The opportunity to get this wonderful lot and property will be gone,” said Gordon, noting that when the building last came on the market in 2007, the town didn’t have the money or the time to attempt to secure it.

But at this point, as the town has approved saving funds for the department for the last four years and a significant cost savings has presented itself with the new building, those in favor of the project are hoping all the stars have aligned and work can begin on the project this summer.

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