Glocester voters to decide on $10.7 million police station bond August 6

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Architect Mark Saccocio explains the proposed mprovements/additions to the Glocester Police Station. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

GLOCESTER – Plans continue to move forward on the renovation of Glocester’s police station, as the Tuesday, August 6 date for the referendum voting draws nearer.

“The building, effectively, will be brand new when we are done,” architect Mark Saccocio told the Town Council at their recent meeting.

That did not stop residents from asking questions regarding everything from final costs to parking lot issues, to the date selected for bond approval, and even why the current middle school couldn’t be turned into a police station instead.

Costs, explained Glocester Police Chief Joseph DelPrete, continue to rise. DelPrete and other town officials have cited several reasons for trying to get the bond approved as soon as possible, resulting in the August date for voting, instead of placing the issue on the November election ballot. Construction costs, they note, will be lower if work gets started this year, and grant money is on the line. An approved $490,000 COPS – or Community Oriented Policing Services – grant must be allocated by the end of this year, while a $1 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant has a 2.5 year limit, and recently awarded American Rescue Plan Act funding of $3.5 million must be earmarked by 2026.

“I just want to make it clear, if this project is successfully voted on, it would be 2025 prices,” said DelPrete. “If I have my way, I want to start in 2024. If we let it go to 2026, we’re going to have problems.”

As far as future needs, Saccocio explained that they have planned for that as well as they could. Once renovations are completed, however, there is no room for more additions at the current site at 162 Chopmist Hill Road.

“In terms of the projections, it’s long term,” he said. “For the foreseeable future, there is no crystal ball. It certainly is a 20-30 year capacity.”

Security improvements will meet national standards, as well, added DelPrete. That includes a secure gated area for police vehicles and safety equipment used in emergencies, which don’t exist currently. Such improvements have been put on hold, pending renovations, he added. Had improvements been done, the work would have to be torn down now to make room for expansion, costing even more money, noted the chief.

Among other concerns are parking lot issues, including water drainage and other problems resulting from the demolition and burying of a former building at the location. Saccocio explained that test holes have been drilled and plans put in place to address future drainage issues. That included excavating areas of concern so that any future issues will be avoided.

Overall layout of police station and surrounding area. Areas in blue are proposed additions. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

Tearing down the current garage because of water and mold issues, and constructing a new communications tower are also in the plans. The current tower has been deemed unsafe and can’t be climbed for repairs or improvements. A new, higher tower will be constructed if the bond is approved, which will enable better communication not only for police, but also for local fire departments.

Also included in the $10.7 million bond are funds to address any, “surprises,” that may arise during construction, explained the architect.

“There are always surprises, things do come up, that’s why we have a contingency fund,” said Saccocio.

Council President William Worthy brought up concerns that had been passed to him by residents, including the cluttered halls and rooms in the station when public viewing took place.

“Just for the record, you left everything where it was. You didn’t, like, place 5,000 more cabinets in there?” Worthy asked DelPrete.

“No,” responded DelPrete. “Things are tight. We tried cleaning it up a bit though.”

If the bond does not pass, improvements still have to be made, and will be, but at the cost of taxpayers and without $4.85 million in grant money, DelPrete added. Taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

“If it doesn’t pass, in 8-10 years we’re probably going to be sitting here having the same discussion, but without the grant money,” said councilor Walter Steere. Additionally, he said, the cost will be much higher.

Worthy told DelPrete that residents have asked other questions too, including whether the renovation would effect safety in the town.

“It’s going to help us improve our police service and prepare for the future,” responded DelPrete.

Another question, said Worthy, was why the middle school couldn’t be used.

“I don’t know even how to answer that question,” responded DelPrete, “unless they vacated the whole building, and then that would be too big. You’d have to change it all for security…I don’t even know how to answer that.”

Steere noted that the council has received the financial impact numbers on the $10.7 million bond. At 45 cents per $1,000, the tax increase for a $350,000 home would total about $157, an increase of six cents on the current projected rate of 39 cents. Steere added that the town is currently seeking other bonds to help offset costs as well.

Saccocio said that if the bond is approved, it will take about two years to complete renovations.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. To add to my prior comment the Regional School will be requesting a $20 million bond which could add another $1.00 to the tax rate. Tax rate could increase to $2.50/1000 which mean an increase of $875 for $350K house $900 for a $400K house.

  2. Tax increase of $180 on 400K, $203 on 450K plus annual 4% increase in budget which could mean as much as $1.00/1000 and a possible increase in fire district taxes (.10 to .20/1000?) and the town will have a revaluation this fiscal year and that will most likely increase the value of your home which may result in increased taxes. All combined it is possible that the tax rate could increase $1.55 to $1.65/1000. That tax increase for $350K house would now increase $543, $400K would increase $620. Need to have all the information not just a small part.

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