State kicks in extra $3.8 million for Glocester police station

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GLOCESTER – Residents were expected to get a final chance to weigh in before the Glocester Town Council’s final decision on a new or renovated police station on Wednesday, but the board opted not to take questions from the large crowd in attendance.

The council held a special meeting on Wednesday, March 27, a gathering that followed news this week that the town has been awarded a $3,850,000 Municipal Public Safety Infrastructure Grant.

“Whatever we’re going to do we need to make a decision soon,” said Councilor Walter Steere at the council’s previous meeting last week. “What might be prudent is if anybody has any questions in their mind, I need them answered, whatever that is.”

“It would be nice to have a little more public input prior to our deciding,” agreed Councilor Jonathan Burlingame.

Steere added that time is running out on grants, and possible help from legislation, among other concerns. Materials and construction costs also continue to rise. At the time he noted that information could be provided on the financial impact of obtaining a bond for the project at the coming meeting.

“That’s the last big key for all the information gathering here,” said Council Vice President Stephen Arnold. “I also think we have to make a decision on what the voters will have the choice to vote for what goes on the ballot. We’re up against it. We don’t want to lose anyone else’s money that’s going to help us here.”

Costs would be partly offset by current grants. Funding already totaled $490,000 from a Community Oriented Policing Services grant, along with $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as of the previous week. The COPS grant has to be spent before the end of the year, while the FEMA grant has a two year limit.

And on Monday, March 25, Gov. Dan McKee announced that the town of Glocester would receive an additional $3,850,000 to upgrade the station to include a regional emergency operations center to serve as a regional hub for northern Rhode Island.

The award came as good news to town officials who had previously discussed the hoped-for state funding.

Steere asked Emergency Management Director Gerry Mosca if he’d heard anything from the state. At the time, Mosca said he hadn’t yet, but that the grant was supposed to be awarded by the middle of the month.

“I’m getting nervous,” said Steere. “I’m hoping it doesn’t roll into the Washington Bridge project.”

Mosca asserted that the town is, “past the line” in terms of making a decision on the project.

“I get calls every week from the FEMA team,” said Mosca. “Did the town make a decision? They want to do something with the money. They want to either transfer it to the town or put it somewhere else. We do not want to lose that. If you go past that April 4 meeting, we are way behind. They just want to see something going forward.”

He added that it also might take up to a year before, “a shovel is put in the ground.”

Once the decision is made for a new station or a renovation, a bond will have to be approved by voters, contractors will have to be hired, plans will have to be finalized and a myriad of other issues will have to be ironed out, officials noted.

“We’ve got to take a direction and put it in the voter’s hands,” said Arnold.

In his presentation at a previous hearing comparing renovations at the current location on 162 Chopmist Hill Road to a new facility near Adelaide Road, Mark Saccocio of Saccocio and Associates Architects of Cranston explained that either facility would work, but no more additions could be constructed after proposed renovations were made at the current site. If more room were needed in the future, a new location would have to be found. Building a new facility at Adelaide on town owned land would provide plenty of room for additions in the future, said Saccocio. The new facility also would provide more efficient use of space, bigger corridors and better organization in separating semi-public, police and secure areas in the building. No one at that hearing opposed the idea of a new facility.

In terms of construction costs, Saccocio said a new station would cost approximately $17,348,393. Renovations at the current station were estimated at $15,046,570, an approximate $2.3 million difference, some of which could be offset by selling the existing station.

The council agreed to send out a Code Red notice to residents to ensure that everyone knew about the Wednesday meeting and said the public could get questions answered, as well as learn firsthand about the proposed project, eliminating any rumors that might be sent out on social media.

“So, just to be very clear,” said Council President William Worthy, “we got some numbers and pre-numbers on what this would look like as far as a financial burden on everybody, and you’d be surprised how little it is between the remodel and a brand new one. I highly recommend coming next Wednesday because anyone who has any information, we can give it all at that meeting.”

Editor’s note: The above article was edited following the meeting on Wednesday, March 27.

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